The Fame Reporter interviewed Australian Theatre royalty, Philip Quast prior to his upcoming solo show at QPAC’s Concert Hall. Playing for one show only – 5 June 2022.
Philip Quast, one of Australia’s best loved and most internationally recognised performers is coming to QPAC with his award winning show!
From a dusty turkey farm near Tamworth to revered stages all over the world, Philip has had a lifetime in the theatre, collecting a wealth of anecdotes on his journey; often hilarious, sometimes outrageous and always from the heart.
Now in this special performance, he wraps them up in an eclectic blend of songs for the simplest of shows – just him, an armchair and his good friend Anne-Maree McDonald at the piano.
A true star with a four-decade career spanning musicals, plays, film and television, Philip first won the hearts of Australians who grew up watching Play School.
Winner of three Laurence Olivier Awards for his roles in Sunday In The Park with George (Donmar Warehouse), South Pacific (National Theatre) and The Fix (Donmar Warehouse), Philip shot to prominence when he appeared as Javert in the original 1987 Australian production of Les Misérables – a role he later reprised on the West End and at The Royal Albert Hall.
We talked to Philip about what audiences can expect from his latest solo show at QPAC, his favourite roles, performing on the West End, what he has learned performing around the world and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Philip, what sparked your interest in becoming a performer initially?
I loved pretending. And that’s all acting is…pretending. Being alone out in the wilds where I grew up, I would wander the hills and pretend I had gone back in time – trying to imagine what the country looked like before we cleared, burnt, ploughed and fenced it. And before we destroyed the original owners.
I would find their campsites and the knappings of their tool making and imagined meeting them and what they were like. Time would disappear for me and I was always reluctant to return home.
What audiences can expect from your latest solo show at QPAC?
I’d like a ‘mixed’ audience. Mixed in age and demographic. Fans but also people interested in the lineage of Music Theatre.
What is your favourite role you have ever played and why?
Probably Graham Chandler in “The Fix”. It was a huge physical challenge and it was something new. Sam Mendes was a joy to work with. I probably wouldn’t be cast now as he had polio and was in calipers, he stuttered and he was gay.
Mind you, how anyone could play that combination in a PC way is questionable. I also loved playing Ben in “Follies”. It felt like the part fitted like a glove.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Always Sondheim of course for the wit and speed of thought but he was not really a performer.
So I guess Maria Callas, as I loved her relationship with text and her ‘crash and burn’ attitude to performing; Brando because, well, because he was Brando and Paul Schofield (though he probably wouldn’t go to a dinner party).
How do you incorporate your past stage roles into your live concerts?
It’s not a matter of what’s in the concerts but what I’ve left out. I tend not to think of roles as characters but ‘me’ and also I anecdotally talk about the relationships with the people I’ve worked with. There is so much I could do. ‘I’ve left out so much of my favourite music but there simply is not enough time to fit 44 years worth of stuff in.
The show tends to be what is personal to me a person rather than a performer.
What do you like about stage work versus film and TV?
I don’t. Stage is exhausting and I’m worn out physically from doing thousand and thousands of repeat performances – new hip and two new knees and torn shoulders etc. Film and TV is done and dusted on the day and it’s up to the editor to create your performance.
However, there is nothing like the immediacy of live performing. You know if it’s good or bad or working in the moment and you have to adjust accordingly.
What was it like performing on the West End at The Royal Albert Hall in Les Miserables?
That “Dream Cast 10th Anniversary Concert” was like nothing I’ll ever experience again.
I’ve sung at The Albert Hall about 5 more times since then but the Les Mis concert was the first of those big extravaganzas (in England at least) and no-one knew what to expect.
It was all very cavalier and we made it up as we went along. But to be on stage performing with so many people who’d played your role was a joy. They were so supportive. I think there were 25 people who’d played Javert in the chorus and it was the same with all the other roles.
It felt like a family and the response from the audience shocked us all. Of course concerts like that happen all the time now but it was the highest rating show ever on PBS – bigger than ‘The Three Tenors.’
What do you love about the Queensland music theatre community in particular?
I have always been enamored of the amount of work done in Brisbane for and with young people. Harvest Rain was an incredibly innovative set up and now with AVT plus Griffith University it’s a real hub.
What have you learnt about yourself whilst performing around the globe?
How to always be curious….about everything. Performing is informed by everything other than performance. The hidden skills of technical crews, the skills of cooks, of carpenters and local artisans is always humbling.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Favourite mantra when you are down
“I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me; the old solutions are falling apart; nothing has been done yet with the new ones. So I begin, everywhere at once, as if I had a century ahead of me.” — Elias Canetti
Ray, a drop of golden sun.
Savoury or Sweet
Tap dancing on crutches
4th time lucky
Can’t live without
Place you want to travel to
Antarctica before it’s gone
TV Show Binge
Sunday in the Park with George
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Coming home afterwards and chucking my clothes off
Thank-you Philip for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for your concert at QPAC!
Philip Quast in concert
Sunday 5 June 3pm – Concert Hall, QPAC
Philip Quast Tickets
All photos – Supplied