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A big band of entertainers

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A big band of entertainers

The Gold Coast Bulletin

7 September 2006

HOME and Away stars Kate Ritchie and Paul O'Brien will be special guests at a benefit gala on the Gold Coast this month to raise money for The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Logie Award-winning duo will appear at the Big Band Night to celebrate the swing era of the 1930s and 1940s.

"I do like a bit of jazz music myself," says O'Brien, a former Marymount College student.

"I'm also looking forward to coming back to the Coast to see my friends. There are so many memories for me," he says.

Since winning Most Popular New Male Talent at this year's Logie Awards, life has not stopped for the rising star.

"I went from one extreme to another," he says.

"I bummed around on the Gold Coast and suddenly, I've got a profile and and am being recognised by people on the streets.

"I'm living a different life these day.

"It's a great experience, but I miss having friends.

"I'm trying to achieve my goals and that's why I'm sacrificing other areas of my life," he says.

Like many of his soap contemporaries, O'Brien wants to work in feature films in the future.

"I want to push myself and take on challenging roles," he says.

"I also want to start producing my own comedy skits.

"Winning a Logie has put me in the limelight and as an actor in Australia, I couldn't be in a better position."

O'Brien was one of three Home and Away stars to win the most-recognised television award.

Jodi Gordon was names Most Popular New Female Talent and Kate Ritchie, a veteran of the show for almost 20 years, won the Silver Logie.

O'Brien says sharing the moment with his Home and Away cast-mates made it even more special.

"Kate Ritchie is great," he says.

"She's a top chick and I take my hat off to her."

O'Brien will be joined by Paula Duncan and Shelley Sykes to host the Big Band Night.

Other celebrity guests include Ian Stenlake (Stingers) and Lara Cox (Heartbreak High).

US jazz artist Duke Bannister will headline the entertainment. Bannister began playing professionally at the age of 17 and has gone on to perform at some of the most famous and infamous clubs in America.

In Australia, he is known for his leading roles in light operas and as the featured vocalist for several big bands and jazz ensembles.

Bannister will be joined by an impressive lineup of local talent, including Mandi Lodge, Diana Leeson, Adam King and Jacy Lewis.

Film producer Philip Avalon will host a celebrity auction, with proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Items up for grabs include motorcycle champion Daryl Beattie's original racing leathers, original Home and Away scripts signed by cast members and a boogie board donated by international body board champion Andrew Lefter.

Other prizes on the night include a perfume gift package, a Sunshine Coast holiday and a day spa package.

Also promoted at the event will be the CD, Pink Swing - a jazz/swing compilation featuring artists such as James Morrison, Vince Jones and Kate Ceberano. The Big Band Night organisers expect to raise more than $100,000 for the charity.

* The Big Band Night plays the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 30 at 6.30pm. Tickets are $155, including meal and entertainment.

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