Rob Guest was one of Australia’s most-loved musical theatre stars and his induction to the AussieTheatre.com Hall Of Fame comes as a tribute to his extraordinary career.
Born in Birmingham, England, Rob in fact began his career as a singer in the pop charts of New Zealand. He starred for many years on favourite TV shows such as Happen Inn and performed his hit records from NZ to Korea to Czechoslovakia, where he performed to a television audience of over 400 million.
In 1978 Rob won the Korean Song Festival Best Performance trophy, was voted New Zealand’s Professional Performer of the Year and recorded his own television special for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Rob worked in Las Vegas through the eighties, where he performed as M.C. at the Dunes Hotel, then at Harrahs Hotel in Atlantic City, Reno and Lake Tahoe.
In 1985 he won the coveted F.I.D.O.F. Award in Los Angeles for his performance at the World Song Festival in the USA. Rob moved to Australia when cast in the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, for which he received a Green Room Award for Best Male Performer in a Leading Role.
After touring Australia for three and a half years he was cast as The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, going on to play the role to great acclaim for a record 2,289 performances over seven years. In the midst of this run Rob was awarded Best New Zealand Theatrical Performer of the Year twice for his roles in both Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.
In 1995 he traveled to London at the invitation of producer Cameron Mackintosh to appear in the 10th Anniversary Concert Performance of Les Miserables at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1998/9 Rob reprised the role of Jean Valjean in the 10th Anniversary production of Les Miserables in Australasia.
Roles since then include Al Jolson in Jolson (Nichols/Brereton) for which he received rave reviews, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music (GFO/SEL), Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose (GFO/SEL), and Harold Hill in Music Man (The Production Company). Rob has more than 40 roles to his credit, also including the title roles in Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Barnum, Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeney Todd and many more.
Rob’s final role was The Wizard in the blockbuster musical Wicked at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.
Rob Guest died after suffering a stroke in October 2008. His death stunned the theatre industry, and saw countless tributes from fans and theatre industry representatives alike.
Throughout his life he was enthusiastic about encouraging young artists, and touring gave him the opportunity to develop this: he was involved with over two hundred masterclasses and performances with young soloists, musicians and choirs, and loved to advise and support young professionals as their own careers developed. On New Year’s Day 1994, Rob received an OBE for his services to the New Zealand Entertainment Industry.
The Rob Guest Endowment exists as a way to continue on his legacy.
Photo: Rob Guest with Amanda Harrison in Wicked