How Les Misérables made me rethink Brisbane
I'm still not sure how Les Misérables did it.
A part of me - a cheering, laughing, weeping part of me - is still sitting at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), and I can't decide how the show managed to keep it there, still, days later.
It could have been Simon Gleeson's heartbreaking performance as Jean Valjean. Though it could equally have been Patrice Tipoki's Fantine or Kerrie Anne Greenland's Eponine.
The production quality was so strong that I'm left like a clueless punter after a magician does their trick. I know the stage changed but that boat turned into a cityscape far faster than I thought possible. I know the actors are pulling their punches - so why did I duck all the way over here?
This is a full-cream production of one of the greatest musicals ever made. Cameron Mackintosh's production of Les Misérables has come to Brisbane and you won't go wrong seeing it. Behemoth international productions like this and a long list of free Christmas events are making a weekend trip a breeze to organise and enjoy.
QPAC sits between Brisbane's flourishing cultural precinct and South Bank - both spots holding more than is possible to enjoy in a single weekend even if you visited nothing else in Brisbane. From the concert stage at Gardens Point, across the Goodwill Bridge, past the Ship Inn and through the barbeques, cinemas, restaurants and beaches of South Bank Parklands, past the Suncorp Piazza and QPAC, to the Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, you're spoiled for things to do.
We began our Friday evening with drinks at the Mantra Grey St bar before heading off to QPAC for dinner at the Lyrebird restaurant. If you're seeing a show, it's almost a shame not to couple it with the wonderful food and service at the Lyrebird. I'm not used to having oysters this good this close to the equator, but there they are - perfectly supporting the Salmon.
Just upstairs we sat down to a theatre experience I can't help but recommend to anyone who'll listen. This is stage production as moving, as precise and as visceral as you can imagine. If you're trying to impress someone (or even trying to apologise for something you've done), take them to see Hayden Tee's Javert haunt Jean Valjean through his life. Take them to see Kerrie Anne Greenland's Eponine watch her beloved Marius fall for another woman.
We were slightly late to check out of the Mantra the following morning owing to me repeating "this bed is too comfy". Once we did, we popped over to the Wheel of Brisbane for a telling view of the area's new developments. A tour of one of Queensland Art Gallery's exhibits (take the tour, the art is amazing but context is everything) later and we walked across the Victoria Bridge to a Christmas roast turkey at Jimmy's on the mall. As a Brisbane resident, this came as a surprise to me, as Jimmy's has been there forever and I had no idea just how good the food actually is.
It feels like congratulations are in order to the city for drawing such a large production of Les Mis, but a look around the colourful, warm and lively cultural precinct tells me it's only fitting.
The writer was a guest of Brisbane Marketing