'Uncut' was a premiere performance by one of Australia’s most acclaimed musical theatre stars, Philip Quast, that featured material ranging from penis jokes to 'Play School' anecdotes, with a little bit of everything in-between, including perhaps the finest rendition of a Les Mis classic that you will ever pay to see.
The three-time Olivier Award-winning Philip Quast, in his debut cabaret production, strode onto the stage (10 June) where he launched his career 40 years ago, Dunstan Playhouse, and in his rich baritone, delivered a Celtic folk song, 'The Gypsy Rover', that was emblematic of his storied career; he’s been everywhere, from the Playhouse to the West End, from playing the Biblical Adam sans fig leaf, to hosting 'Play School' with Noni Hazlehurst and Big Ted.
'Uncut’s narrative, then, was a rambling road, a sincere reflection upon a theatrical life that ended, in 2017, with his role as Ben Stone in Stephen Sondheim’s 'Follies'.
While he sang Ben’s ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’, 'Uncut' was a show about the road he did take, a show about the Philip Quast we know and love, because who remembers the Philip he’ll never be?
'Uncut' was imbued with humour, mirth and self-deprecation; Philip dropped his pants as he sang about the emperor’s new clothes, told stories of alcohol-fuelled brushes with royalty, led audience sing-alongs of ‘Wiggly Woo’ from 'Play School' and kissed unsuspecting male audience members flush on the face.
Coming as it did, though, in the twilight of his career, there was also a heavy dose of melancholy.
He sat in a leather “old person’s chair” and paid tribute to his father, a farmer now trapped in a retirement home, by singing 'My Father’s Hands', while also paying homage to his dearly departed mother by singing the first song ever learnt while ploughing the fields, ‘That Lucky Old Sun’.
The song about celestial bodies that we were all waiting to hear, though, was ‘Stars’, from Les Mis. Philip’s Javert, from the original Australian theatrical production and later the West End, is arguably the definitive version.
To close the show, he began the number in his speaking voice, then ended it with a triumphant bellow. It brought the audience to their feet for the first time, but not the last.
For the encore, Philip and renowned accompanist, the exceptional Anne-Marie McDonald, delivered ‘I Was Here’ from little known off-Broadway show ‘The Glorious Ones’. The song closes with the lines: “how I can leave something immortal? Something that time cannot make disappear. Something to say 'I was here'.”
It’s a question Philip need not ask. We will always know that he was here and cherish that we were here to see it.