Rob GuestRobert John Guest, OBE (17 July 19501 October 2008) was a British-born New Zealand-Australian actor, television personality and host and singer, who started his career in pop music in New Zealand, before becoming 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.
BiographyRob Guest was born in Birmingham, England. The family moved to New Zealand when Rob was 13 and later moved to Canada where he 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 and released his debut single "House of Cards" written by Lynsey de Paul and Barry Blue.
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 in 1994 he also hosted the Australian version of German 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.
In 1993 Guest received the Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc, the highest honour available to a New Zealand variety entertainer.
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 The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, Guest performed in a number of other high-profile theatre roles, including Al Jolson in Jolson, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Rev Shaw Moore(baritone) in Footloose, and Professor 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.
DeathOn 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 1 October 2008 with his partner Kellie Dickerson, Judy Barnes 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 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.
Guest was buried at Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium, Macquarie Park, New South Wales.