|Born||Robert John Guest
17 July 1950
Birmingham, West Midlands, England, UK
|Died||2 October 2008
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Occupation||Musical theatre performer, actor, singer, television host|
Lynette Perry (divorced)
Robert John (Rob) Guest, OBE (17 July 1950 – 2 October 2008) was a British born New Zealand-Australian actor and singer, best known for his work in Australian musical theatre, particularly in various productions of The Phantom of the Opera. He played the lead for a record 2,289 performances over seven years, more than any other performer.
Rob Guest was born in Birmingham, England. The family moved to New Zealand when Rob was 13 and later moved to Canada where Rob was in a band called the Apparition. The family returned to New Zealand and in 1968 Guest joined the band The Shore Thing who relaunched in 1969 as the Apparition. In 1970 Guest joined the In Betweens as their vocalist. He signed with Polydor records in 1972.
Rob Guest appeared on the New Zealand radio charts and starred for many years on television shows including Happen Inn. He also appeared in the Hamilton Operatic Society's productions of Half a Sixpence and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He won his first lead at age 22 in The Jesus Christ Revolution (which was presented as Man of Sorrows in New Zealand and which predated Jesus Christ Superstar). After performing his hit songs all around the world, Guest won the 1978 Korean Song Festival Best Male Vocalist trophy, recorded a special for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and was voted the 1979 New Zealand 'Professional Performer of the Year'.
In 1981 Guest moved to the United States with his first wife, Lynette Perry, where he spent most of the 1980s performing and hosting shows in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, Nevada and Lake Tahoe. In 1985 Guest won the FIDOF Award in Los Angeles for his performance at the World Song Festival. He returned to New Zealand, opened a photographic studio, while continuing to moonlight as a performer. In 1988, he was named New Zealand's male theatrical performer of the year.
Rob Guest moved to Australia after he was cast as Jean Valjean in the Australian production of Les Misérables, following Normie Rowe's portrayal, and spent three-and-a-half years touring Australia and New Zealand in the role; Guest also received a Green Room Award for Best Male Performer in a Leading Role. Guest then followed Anthony Warlow in the title role in The Phantom of the Opera from December 1991 to September 1998.
Guest was the world's longest serving Phantom, having played the role a record 2,289 performances over seven years in front of Australian and New Zealand audiences.
During this time he also hosted the game show Man O Man.
In 1995, Guest was invited as one of the seventeen Jean Valjeans from around the world to perform the encore of the Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He later reprised the role of Valjean in 1998–99 for the Australasian 10th anniversary production.
Guest was appointed an Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire on New Year's Day 1994, for his services to the New Zealand entertainment industry. His first marriage had ended in divorce, and in 1994 he married the singer Judy Barnes. They had two children, Christopher and Amy whom Rob cherished. Judy and Rob separated in 2001 but remained good friends.
Following his work in Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, Guest performed in a number of high-profile roles, including Al Jolson in Jolson, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Rev Shaw Moore in Footloose, and Harold Hill in The Music Man. Guest performed numerous gala performances both in Australia and internationally, twice hosting Carols in the Domain, and also releasing four gold-selling albums.
On the evening of 30 September 2008, Guest was taken to St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, after suffering a stroke. He died on the morning of 2 October 2008 with his partner Kellie Dickerson, Judy Guest and their children Christopher and Amy and best friend Greg Smart by his side. At the time of his death, Guest was appearing as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the Australian premiere production of the hit Broadway musical Wicked, which had opened in Melbourne in July 2008. Kellie Dickerson was the show's musical director at the time. A public memorial was held for Guest at the Regent Theatre on 13 October 2008, featuring speeches and musical performances by his friends and co-stars from various shows. Bert Newton was brought in as his replacement in Wicked, six weeks following his death.
Notable roles included:
- Jekyll & Hyde as Jekyll and Hyde
- Jesus Christ Superstar as Jesus Christ
- Jolson as Al Jolson
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Joseph
- Les Misérables as Jean Valjean
- Man O Man (host)
- Pippin as Pippin
- The Music Man as Harold Hill
- The Phantom of the Opera as The Phantom
- The Sound of Music as Captain Von Trapp
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as Sweeney Todd
- Wicked as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), 1 January 1994
- Entertainer of the Year
- Recording Artist of the Year
- Theatrical Performer of the Year
- Benny Award Winner from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc
- Shure Gold Microphone Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc
- Green Room Awards – Best Male Theatrical Performer – Jean Valjean
- Best Performance Award – Los Angeles – Los Angeles Song Festival
- F.I.D.O.F Award. Seoul Korea
- Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical – Wicked
The Rob Guest Endowment
In recognition of Rob Guest's achievements in the musical theatre industry, ANZ Trustees established a memorial fund in his honour to help emerging young performers in musical theatre. The Rob Guest Endowment is awarded each year to an emerging musical theatre performer selected by a panel of industry experts. The Award will provide the emerging performer with further knowledge and training in the industry to develop their potential. 2009 saw the Endowment created, the competition launched and the inaugural concert staged at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne. The winners were Danielle Matthews 2009 and Francine Cain 2010.
- "ROB GUEST O.B.E. (as The Wizard)". wickedthemusical.com.au. Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Recipients".
- London Gazette, 31 December 1993, p.34. Accessed 2009-09-27.
- 'Outlook Grim' for Entertainer Rob Guest After Massive Stroke
- 'Everybody loved him': stars plan tribute to Wicked star Rob Guest, The Age, 2 October 2008. " ... died this morning after suffering a massive stroke."
- Theatre great Rob Guest dies after suffering a stroke
- Undated resume (PDF) for Guest, Sherin Richards Management. Accessed 2009-09-27. The resume does not specify the year or give any further detail.
- "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Recipients".
- The Rob Guest Endowment website
- The Sydney Morning Herald Obituary
- A shining star of the stage without pretensions, The Age, 4 October 2008
- The Dominion Post, 9 October 2008