1 Oct 2008

Phantom's Rob Guest critically ill after stroke

10:13 pm on 1 October 2008

Theatre star Rob Guest is critically ill in hospital after suffering a massive stroke in Australia.

Guest, 57, currently starring in the musical Wicked, was admitted to Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday night, a spokeswoman for the production said.

The English-born entertainer started his career as a pop star in New Zealand, and is best known in Australia for playing the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera.

He is the world's longest serving Phantom with a record 2,289 performances over seven years during the 1990s.

Guest also starred in Les Miserables and has performed in more than 40 stage and television productions.

He was awarded an OBE for his services to the New Zealand entertainment industry in 1994.

It is understood his family has flown from New Zealand to be with him.

Producer John Frost said the cast from Wicked, in which he plays the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, were "shocked".

"Rob Guest is one of Australian music theatre's biggest stars: there have been few bigger in our lifetime," Mr Frost said.

"He is, nonetheless, the most easy-going of stars. He may have top billing but at all times he comes across to us as an irrepressible, always cheerful optimist. An all-round good bloke."