30 July 1957
Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia
|Notable work(s)||Javert in Les Misérables|
Philip Quast (born 30 July 1957) is an Australian actor and singer who has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, three times, the most of any actor to date. He is perhaps best known for his role as Inspector Javert in the stage musical version of Les Misérables and in the Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert. He is also well known for numerous theater roles including Georges Seurat in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George and Emile de Becque in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. He is also known for appearances in film and for his roles in television shows such as Ultraviolet, Brides of Christ and Play School.
Early life and 80s
He graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1979 and began his career in the resident acting company of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. In the early 80's he appeared in plays such as The Mystery Plays of Wakefield, Three Sisters, On The Wallaby, Pericles, A Month in the Country, As You Like It, Pygmalion, A Hard God, No End of Blame, The Threepenny Opera, Candide, Shark Infested Waters, and the musical adaption of Carmen which he debuted with the Melbourne Theatre Company.
In 1981, Philip also began appearing as a presenter on the Australian children's show Play School, a program he would return to on-and-off again for 17 years.
He shot to prominence in 1987 when he appeared as Javert in the original Australian production of Les Misérables. This performance won him a Sydney Critic Award and a MO Award. In 1989, he traveled to London to play Javert on the West End stage.
Quast never expected to gain such a prominent role, going to the auditions hoping simply for a place in the chorus. Because he was not able to sight-read music, he walked off the stage at the audition but was called back by Claude-Michel Schönberg and eventually given the part as Javert.
Quast credits much of his success as Javert to stage director Trevor Nunn. "Javert for me is not the Wicked Witch of the West," Quast has said. "In fact, there is very little material to work with in the script. Trevor would say things in passing like 'Have you read the Ten Commandments recently?' That's all he would say. If you're thirsty enough, you can follow it up ... there was the whole basis of our legal system and the explanation for the whole of Les Mis. For me, that's inspired directing. That's why he's such an awesome man."
When playing Javert Quast gained a reputation as a perfectionist. He also began experiencing intense bouts of stagefright. "I had a terrible time," he said. "It took me a month to get over it. At one stage I wasn't sleeping at all but lying awake planning speeches to the audience about being sorry and could I start again." Quast's performance has been commonly argued to be the definitive interpretation of Javert, spawning many similar versions among stage actors afterwards.
In 1991 he won his first Laurence Olivier Award for Georges Seurat. Quast was under a large amount of stress when preparing for Sunday in the Park with George, as he struggled to master Sondheim's complicated musical scores (Sondheim told him: "you don't play tennis against people you can beat."), learn to paint and sketch for the play, and waited for the impending birth of his first son, who was due five days after opening night.
In 1993 he returned to Australia to play in a production of Coriolanus and Sondheim's Into the Woods in which he played The Wolf/Cinderella's Prince. He then played Dunois in Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan in the West End and on a UK tour in 1994. In 1994-96 he spent two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing as Fred/Chorus in A Christmas Carol, and King of Navarre in William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, as well as Lodovico in The White Devil', Banquo in Macbeth', and Achilles in Troilus and Cressida.
Quast co-starred in the musical version of The Secret Garden opposite another famous Australian actor, Anthony Warlow. Though mainly a baritone, Quast has played some roles written for tenors, namely George (see above), Candide, and Neville in The Secret Garden. Although he is known for his serious roles, he has also performed comedic parts, such as his 2004 appearance as the pompous Miles Gloriosus in a limited run revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Royal National Theatre.
Quast more recently played the supporting role of Juan Peron in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 2006 production of Evita at the Adelphi Theatre in London. He was nominated for an Olivier award for this role.
He was most recently in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles as Georges. Quast rejoined the cast of La Cage Aux Folles on 4 May 2009 with Roger Allam. Coincidentally, both actors have performed in the role of Javert in Les Misérables.
From July 2010, he played Mr Banks in the Australian premiere production of Mary Poppins at Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre, a part Sir Cameron Mackintosh offered to him in the bathroom of The Ivy in London. He won the 2010 Victorian Green Room Award (Melbourne's top theatre awards) for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance. He also won the Broadway World Australia 2011 award for "Best Featured Actor in a Musical" for Mary Poppins.
In 2012, he played the role of Sir Humphrey Appleby in an Australian production of Yes, Prime Minister. He also performed the role of Walter Burns in a Melbourne production of His Girl Friday.
Quast has been noted for his humble nature, stating he doesn't seek after fame and is concerned that success is measured by notoriety instead of the respect of one's peers. He doesn't keep any of his awards, instead sending them to his parent's home in Australia.
Quast was named as one of the 25 Most Beautiful People for 1996 in Who Weekly magazine. In an article for the magazine he said, "The problem with this business is that you have to supposedly look as good as you can all the time. And I hate that. My idea of doing my hair is sticking it out of the window of a car when it's wet."
He has been universally applauded by critics for his singing voice, which has been described as "warm", and "glorious."  He was named by British newspaper The Stage as "one of the most notable singing actors to come along in years," and composer Stephen Sondheim also noted Quast was "blessed with the voice" for the stage.
- 1991 – for Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George in the role of Georges Seurat
- 1998 – for the Dempsey and Rowe musical The Fix as Grahame Chandler
- 2002 – for Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific in which he played Emille de Becque
- 2011 – Helpmann Awards – Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Mary Poppins)
- 2011 – Green Room Awards – Male Artist – Featured Role (Mary Poppins)
- 1994 – MO Awards – Male Musical Theatrical Performer & "Kevin Jacobsen" Theatrical Performer
- 1993 – Sydney Theatre Critics Award – Best Actor (Into the Woods)
- 1988 – MO Award – Male Musical Theatre Performer (Les Misérables)
- 1988 – Sydney Theatre Critics Award: Best Actor of the Year (Les Misérables)
- 2011 – Nomination, Sydney Theatre Awards – Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Mary Poppins)
- 2007 – Olivier Awards – Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for Evita, at the Adelphi Theatre, London, UK
- 2005 – Nomination, Sydney Theatre Awards – Best Actor in a Lead Role (The Cherry Orchard)
- 2005 – Nomination, Mo Awards – Best Male Actor in a Play (Democracy)
Philip Quast has appeared in the cast recordings for many musicals, but has also released his own album, Live at the Donmar, containing both covers and original material.
Musical cast recordings:
- Mary Poppins The Supercalifragilistic Musical (2011)
- Evita – London Cast Recording (2006)
- The Secret Garden – Original London Cast Recording (2001)
- South Pacific (Royal National Theatre Production – 2001 London Cast)
- The Fix – Original London Cast Recording (1997)
- Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (1995)
- Paris (Original Cast Recording – 1990)
Quast has also made numerous appearances on television, in motion pictures and in dramatic theatre. Major roles include:
- The Devil's Double (2011) – Saddam Hussein
- Clubland (2007)
- The Caterpillar Wish (2006) – Carl Roberts
- Me & Mrs Jones (TV; 2002) – Richard Bowden
- Corridors of Power (2001) (TV) – Michael Fielding MP
- Ultraviolet (1998) (TV) – Father Pearse Harman
- The Damnation of Harvey McHugh (ABC-TV; 1995) – The Minister
- Brides of Christ (ABC-TV mini-series; 1991) – Ian McGregor
- The First Kangaroos (1988) – Alex Burdon
- To Market To Market (1987)
- Sons and Daughters (Grundy Television Production) – Bob "Mitch" Mitchell (TV; 1984)
- The Young Doctors (Grundy Television Production) – Dr Rob Hawkins (TV; 1982–83)
- Play School (1981–96)
- "Twenty Questions with Philip Quast". Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- Litson, Jo (1989-04-30). "The Qualities of Quast". The Weekend Australia.
- Valentine, Patricia (1990-03-15). "The Qualities of Quast". The Weekend Australian.
- "2006 Olivier nominations". Retrieved 2009-11-21.[dead link]
- "2006 Olivier awards announcement". Retrieved 2009-11-21.[dead link]
- Gans, Andrew (13 June 2007), Terfel, Friedman, Evans and Quast to Star in London Sweeney Todd, Playbill.com, retrieved 2007-06-14
- Nathan, John (5 October 2007), Quast and Hodge to Star in London La Cage aux Folles, Playbill.com, retrieved 2007-10-06
- "Interview with the Philip Quast Continuum". Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- "About Evita". Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- Paddock, Terri. "20 Questions With...Philip Quast". Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "25 Most Beautiful People". Who Weekly. 1996-05-20.
- Gross, John. "Swept Along In A Tide of Tunes". Sunday Telegraph.
- Hepple, Peter. "Pointing out Seurat". The Stage.
- "PHILIP QUAST AND MATT RAWLE". Official London Theater.
- Philip Quast at the Internet Movie Database
- The Philip Quast Continuum: The Official Philip Quast Website
- The Philip Quast Guide
- Winners of the Laurence Olivier Award