Australia’s tight-knit theatre community is in shock today with actor Matthew Leonard feared dead in a plane crash in Papua New Guinea.
The wreckage of the plane – which went missing yesterday en route to the Kokoda Track – has been found and there are “no immediate signs of activity”, according to official statements.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this afternoon confirmed there were no survivors from the crash.
13 people were on board the plane.
Leonard’s Facebook group is filled with messages of hope, praying for his survival.
A WAAPA graduate, Leonard appeared in a number of theatre productions but his sense of adventure took over and he left the industry to follow a career as a firefighter.He remains well-liked within the theatre community and there was genuine shock and sadness when news started to filter down about the missing plane last night.
The 28-year-old was amongst the first actors to work on the new Australian musical The Hatpin when it was workshopped in 2005. He also appeared in Rent with the Yellow Glass Theatre and a year-long tour with Brainstorm Productions, which was a solid success.
He appeared in several television commercials and understudied the role of Cable in the professional Australian production ofSouth Pacific in 2004.
Leonard was part of a group travelling with the Melbourne tourism company No Roads Expeditions that checked out of a Port Moresby hotel at 7am yesterday. It is understood the group then caught a flight to Kokoda, but the plane never arrived.It is understood weather conditions were not good.
MORE TO COME