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Robert John Guest, OBE

A British born New Zealand-Australian actor and singer, 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 including Michael Crawford, the performer most recognised in the role.

Rob Guest was born in Birmingham, England. The family moved to New Zealand when the young Guest was 13; they went to Canada for a time, but returned to Auckland, where he attended Mt Albert Grammar School and Avondale College.

Guest first went to Australia in 1970 with the band Sark, which played at the Whisky Au Go-Go and Chequers in Sydney. However, the competition was too tough and he returned to New Zealand.

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.

He then followed Anthony Warlow in the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, and played the role from December 1991 to September 1998. Guest performed the role for a world record 2,289 shows.

During this time he also hosted the 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.

Since his appearances in Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, Guest performed in a number of high-profile roles, including Al Jolson in Jolson, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Rev Shaw Moore in Footloose, and Harold Hill in The Music Man.

On 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 2 October 2008 with his wife Kellie Dickerson, family and friends by his side.

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