Australian actor and singer Philip Quast has won three Olivier Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. The powerful baritone’s impressive musical theatre career includes his career defining Inspector Javert for the original Australian production of Les Misérables, and later in London’s West End. In 1995 he was chosen for the 10th anniversary concert; Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which was beamed to a worldwinde audience and international recognition. He said he still gets mail about that performance. Colm Wilkinson played Jean Valjean and both are considered ‘definitives’ for the roles.
Playing Frenchmen seems to b a reoccurring pattern and an award winning one. Javert in Les Misérables, George Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George and Emile de Becque in South Pacific. Philip won Oliviers for the last two and in 1998 for his role as the crippled spin doctor in The Fix at London’s Donmar Warenouse.
Philip is currently playing the lecherous Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the London Coliseum with Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. He had previously performed the role in a concert presentation alongside Bryn in 2007 at London’s Royal Festival Hall. This production is a transfer from last year’s staging in New York at the Lincoln Centre’s Avery Fisher Hall.
When I met Philip at the Coliseum’s stage door on a very warm spring afternoon he was full of the joys. There is an uncanny physical and voice similarity to Russell Crowe, who played Javert in Tom Hooper’s 2012 version of Les Mis. He also has a double in the cast, which I practiced on by mistake. Although flattered he obviously did not sign my sketch, preferring to leave it to the real Philip, who arrived half an hour later. The joys of autograph hunting.