First, this is what you need to know: Louise Plowright, a fantastically talented singer and actress who has appeared in many West End musicals, has pancreatic cancer which isn't treatable in the United Kingdom. She needs help if she is going to survive. Her equally fantastically talented sister, opera singer Rosalind Plowright, has set up a Crowdfunding campaign to save her beloved sibling — they are two peas in a pod — and if you would like to help these two wonderful women and artists, you can by clicking on this link.
Now, a little background. At the beginning of 2013 Rosalind was in Milan to sing at La Scala. Rosalind is a Prima Donna, it's true, but she is also one of the must unassuming and sensitive human beings that I've ever had the pleasure to know. That's rare in the opera world! In any world.
Rosalind's sister also sings… all the family sing. Louise is perhaps best known for starring as Donna in Mamma Mia! in the West End, a show she was in for five years. However, it was sent she was appearing as Madame Morrible in Wicked, again in the West End, that she was diagnosed with cancer. While Rosalind was in Italy, Louise underwent a horrifyingly complex and lengthy operation. While she was singing on the world's most important stage her focus was on her younger sister's ordeals in London; the musical family are incredibly close.
After the apparent initial success the cancer has now recurred. There is, however, a treatment which has a good chance of working but it is not available in the UK and, of course, the sooner treatment can begin the better Louise's chance of a full recovery.
Dr Woo-Chul Moon of the Seoul National University Cancer Hospital is the man who can help and Louise has the opportunity to go to his hospital in South Korea on 24 August for a five-week course of treatment. Such treatment is, obviously, expensive and, however successful and talented an artist is we know that from La bohéme onwards (and before) there are only a handful of stars who earn something akin to your average high-street bank manager. Louise Plowright needs to raise £140,000. An awful lot of money.
Many wonderful people are loved by the small group of people they know, but a West End star has the advantage of being known by a great many people and, fortunately, Louise is greatly loved. Bucket collections are going on outside West End theatres as I write, casts in London and on tour are raising money and her many friends have been extraordinarily generous. However £140k is a huge sum and there is little time. If you would like to help a few clicks are all it takes. If your pocket isn't too full just now, you can help spread the word by using the #savelouise hashtag and you can follow @LouisePlowright on Twitter, and also big sis @raplowright.
UPDATE 1 March 2016
Louise lost her fight against her cancer on 1 March 2016. She died with her closely-knit family around her. The fundraising page on Facebook said:
The world has lost a truly special person, prodigiously talented, and a friend to all. Can I thank all of you who joined us in this battle and who helped Louise to have hope.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.