Australia and New Zealand's musical theatre communities are planning a series of tributes, including a public memorial service in Melbourne, for entertainer Rob Guest, who died this morning after suffering a massive stroke.
Productions including Billy Elliot, The Rocky Horror Show and The Phantom of the Opera will dedicate to Guest, who suffered a massive stroke at just 58 years old.
Friends are planning a public service at a Melbourne theatre - either the Regent or the Princess - with songs and speeches.
Guest's family met this afternoon to discuss arrangements for the service, in about ten days' time, and also a private funeral to be held early next week.
Marina Prior, who starred alongside Guest in The Phantom of the Opera for two years, today recalled him as having a childlike enthusiasm for the limelight, but being devoid of a star-attitude.
"Robbie always had the number-one dressing room with the star on the door but the door was always open and the couch was always full with cast and backstage crew," she said.
"He was exactly the same to his leading lady, to his producer as he was to the cleaner ... and that's what everybody loved about him."
In what he described as one of the hardest moments of his career, Wicked producer John Frost broke the news to the cast cast of sold-out musical, in which Guest was playing the role of Wizard of Oz, after yesterday's matinee performance at the Regent Theatre.
At last night's performance, the cast received a standing ovation and cried backstage knowing Guest was on his deathbed.
Frost said the performance was electric with emotion and the audience embraced Guest's understudy Rodney Dobson, who played the role of the Wizard of Oz for just the second time.Prior said she was comforted by the fact Guest would have wanted the show to continue and relished the media attention and public sentiment since news of his fate became public.
Very sad :( I saw him as the Phantom in Melbourne when I was little, he was the first of many Phantoms I've seen and in my mind always my favourite.
Also, chur to all the New Zealand ONTD'ers \m/