Philip Quast

Philip Quast



Philip Mark Quast (born 30 July 1957) is an Australian actor and singer. He has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical three times, the most of any actor to date. He is perhaps best known for his role as Inspector Javert in the stage musical Les Misérables and in the Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert. He is also well known for numerous theatre roles, including Georges Seurat in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George and Emile de Becque in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. He is also known for appearances in film and for his roles in television shows such as Ultraviolet, Brides of Christ, and Play School. Quast, one of three children, was born in 1957 in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. His family lived and worked on a mixed but predominately turkey farm. He graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1979 and began his career in the resident acting company of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. In the early 80's he appeared in plays such as The Mystery Plays of Wakefield, Three Sisters, On The Wallaby, Pericles, A Month in the Country, As You Like It, Pygmalion, A Hard God, No End of Blame, The Threepenny Opera, Shark Infested Waters, Candide with Nimrod Theatre Company, and a musical adaption of Carmen which he debuted with the Melbourne Theatre Company.In 1981, Philip also began appearing as a presenter on the Australian children's show Play School, a program he would return to on-and-off again for 17 years. He shot to prominence in 1987 when he appeared as Javert in the original Australian production of Les Misérables. This performance won him a Sydney Critic Award and a MO Award. In 1989, he traveled to London to play Javert on the West End stage. Quast never expected to gain such a prominent role, going to the auditions hoping simply for a place in the chorus. Because he was not able to sight-read music, he walked off the stage at the audition but was called back by Claude-Michel Schönberg and eventually given the part as Javert.  Quast credits much of his success as Javert to stage director Trevor Nunn. "Javert for me is not the Wicked Witch of the West," Quast has said. "In fact, there is very little material to work with in the script. Trevor would say things in passing like 'Have you read the Ten Commandments recently?' That's all he would say. If you're thirsty enough, you can follow it up ... there was the whole basis of our legal system and the explanation for the whole of Les Mis. For me, that's inspired directing. That's why he's such an awesome man. "When playing Javert, Quast gained a reputation as a perfectionist. He also began experiencing intense bouts of stagefright. "I had a terrible time," he said. "It took me a month to get over it. At one stage I wasn't sleeping at all but lying awake planning speeches to the audience about being sorry and could I start again." Quast's performance has been commonly argued to be the definitive interpretation of Javert, spawning many similar versions among stage actors afterwards.

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