Thursday, October 02, 2008

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."

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."
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.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 02 October, 2008, OpenID crossoverman said...

It's just so shocking. I saw him in the role again last Friday night. I have friends who saw the Sunday matinee - his second-to-last performance. He was the only actor of the main cast to have been on stage for every performance of Wicked in Melbourne. Rodney Dobson, his understudy, had to go on for the first time after Rob's stroke.

I saw a local production of Mame last night and the leading lady dedicated the show to him last night during curtain call. That was emotional - I can't imagine what it's like to actually be seeing Wicked itself right now.

At 02 October, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Crossoverman, I feel just terrible, not only for his family, but also for his adopted stage family. Godspeed to all of them.

At 03 October, 2008, Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Thanks Steve for recognising the passing of a great Aussie performer. I saw Rob in Phantom and Les Mis and he had a beautiful voice. The Australian theatre scene is small and I'm sure many of our performers will be on stage with a heavy heart this week.

At 03 October, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for your comments, Elisabeth. I was very shocked and saddened to read the news.

At 09 October, 2008, Anonymous katya said...

Thank you for the tribute to one of Australia's most popular performers. I saw Wicked again last Saturday and the cast carried on like the true professionals they are and in the way I believe Rob Guest would have wished. It must have been particularly difficult for Rodney Dobson, a friend, to step into the role of The Wizard but he did really well.

Rob Guest will be sadly missed - he was so highly spoken of as a person as well as as a performer.

At 17 February, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A relative of mine has worked on Wicked from day one. Everyone involved in the performance that night was devastated. Most of them don't remember the performance at all but were running on memory (& empty) When the curtain came down everyone hit the floor & simply cried & cried. The audience gave them a standing ovation & everyone of them,while understanding the sentiment,simply wished he was there with them, doing what they do. In fact the performance was done for him, because they all knew that was what he would have wanted. "The show must go on." I was told that of all the performers they have worked with he was the loveliest, sweetest, caring person they had met. He looked after the young performers away from home for the first time,was deeply involved in mentoring of up & coming people, & those just starting the journey. He & his partner were deeply in love & anyone who hadn't found love yet, wished that when they did, it would be like Rob & his partner. Yes Katya,Rodney Dobson wore Robs costume that night & my relative is one of the key people to get the actors ready. They said when they realised they would even have to enter his dressing room, which all of them wanted left as it was, & take his costume, to say is was hard is an understatement.Rob will never be forgotten, he left so much love behind & was such a shining example of what a person should try to be while on this Earth.He was much loved & respected & will always remain so. Rest in Peace Rob. If you believe in prayer do so for his partner & children & everyone who loved him.

At 17 February, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks to both Katya and Anonymous for sharing your own moving tributes.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Technorati blog directory Blog Directory & Search engine
Visitor Map

Powered by FeedBurner