RIP: Rob Guest (1950-2008)RIP: Rob Guest (1950-2008)
Sad news for theatre lovers Down Under. British-born musical stage actor Rob Guest died yesterday from a stroke suffered Tuesday evening.
While stateside audiences may not be familiar with him, he was considered one of the top performers on the Australian and New Zealand stage. Additionally, for fans of The Phantom Of The Opera, it should be noted that he earned the distinction as the world's longest serving star of the musical with 2,289 performances in the eponymous role over a period of seven years.
In late July, I had the unique opportunity to enjoy his terrific portrayal as the Wizard of Oz in the current Melbourne (Australia) mounting of the international hit Wicked. He captured the essence of the role exquisitely.
According to the production site:
Rob was taken to Melbourne’s St. Vincent’s Hospital late on Tuesday night after suffering a stroke and remained in a critical condition until his death 26 hours later. The Australian Producer of Wicked, John Frost said "His family -- his mother, his partner, his children -- and friends held his hand and told him how much we loved him."Guest was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the New Zealand entertainment industry, where his career had its start. Guest's career capper would be as that "Sentimental Man" in Wicked. I join with others in expressing my condolences.
Mr. Frost told the cast of Wicked of Rob’s lost fight for life after the Wednesday matinee performance. "It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in 35 years in the theatre," he said. "Everyone was very emotional because Rob was such a father figure to the company. Wicked’s cast looked up to him because of his vast experience.
"Rob Guest was one of Australian music theatre’s biggest stars, and the most easy-going of stars. He may have had top billing but at all times he came across to us -- producers, fellow cast members and backstage crew -- as an irrepressible, always cheerful optimist. An all round good bloke. All of us who knew him are shocked and deeply saddened."
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).