Legit actor/singer Rob Guest, the world’s longest serving Phantom of the Opera, died of a stroke Sept. 30 in Melbourne. He was 57.
He was starring as the Wizard of Oz in “Wicked” at Melbourne’s Regent Theater at the time of his death. Guest was born in Birmingham, England and grew up in New Zealand, where he began his career as a pop singer, appearing on the NZ TV skein, “Happen In.”
He toured globally, winning a Korean Song Festival Best Performance trophy in 1978 and was voted New Zealand’s Professional Performer of the Year before spending much of the 1980s working as an emcee at shows in Las Vegas.
He realized his voice better suited the legit stage, where he quickly distinguished himself as Jean Valjean in the Australian production of “Les Miserables.” He won a Green Room award in 1991 for that role, before becoming the Australian “Phantom of the Opera,” which he performed a recordbreaking 2,289 times from 1991-1998.
He played more than 40 roles during his career, including Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and title roles in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” He also hosted the short-lived Seven network skein, “Man o Man” in 1994.
He became an Australian citizen in 1996 and received an Order of the British Empire for his services to the New Zealand entertainment industry in 1994. He is regarded as New Zealand’s greatest musical theater talent.
He is survived by his two children and his partner, Kellie Dickerson, “Wicked’s” musical director.
— Michaela Boland