A freelance writer and father of two, I am interested in almost anything the ever-changing city of Brisbane has to offer. When I am not seeking the kid-friendly and affordable, I am tracking the home-grown and the unique... Come and discover with me!
Published July 29th 2012
Launch a night on the Northbank in superb style
If you're looking for live theatre in Brisbane's CBD, you only have one option to choose from—fortunately, though, the Queensland University of Technology's 400-seat Gardens Theatre on George Street is an excellent one, providing a performing arts experience equal to any in Queensland. Through a unique programming combination of top-tier national touring acts and showcase performances from QUT's highly-regarded Drama and Dance academies, the Gardens not only continues to bring the finest traditions of mainhouse Australian theatre to Brisbane, but each year offers patrons exciting opportunities to witness the future of these traditions in the making.
The special atmosphere surrounding a night at the Gardens Theatre begins well before entering the venue itself. Following the path from George Street between the lush greenery of the City Botanic Gardens and the august façades of the Queensland Parliament buildings, one almost expects to hear the clip-clop of hooves on the pavers, or to look around and see bejewelled socialites in top hats and hooped gowns.
The sight of the theatre's gleaming modern façade might rapidly dispel such fantasies, but not unpleasantly so. Rather, fond imaginings of the theatre-going past are likely to be instantly replaced with a very up-to-date hankering for pre-show beverages as the warmth and hubbub of the foyer become visible through the wall of glass on the theatre's gardens side. The foyer is so large as to seem like a venue in itself, but the well-stocked bar with its smiling staff, the artworks and sculptures on display, and the happy buzz of the gathered crowd create a friendly environment in which to while away the minutes before the show begins.
Bubbly and buzz in Gardens Theatre's friendly foyer
The auditorium itself retains happy legacies of its past life as the Queensland Conservatorium of Music's concert hall, in the form of superb acoustics and a now-rare spaciousness. With its traditional proscenium arch configuration, the Gardens weaves an old-world enchantment which recalls live theatre's full pre-television powers. Compared with newer medium-sized theatres, such a layout may at first seem to lack flexibility; however, considering that the 2012 season is typical in featuring two recent works by David Williamson, performers of the calibre of Peter Phelps, Maggie Blinco, Kevin Harrington and Heather Bolton, and plays devised by Broadway directors, it would be a novelty-obsessed theatre-goer indeed who would fail to be captivated by the superb professional quality of a Gardens Theatre show.
Inside the Gardens Theatre - comfort, spaciousness and superb acoustics
The same can be confidently said of the annual QUT showcase season, which features second- and third-year acting and dance students from one of the nation's foremost performing arts schools stretching their hard-earned skills with challenging plays, or interpreting the work of guest choreographers from around Australia and the world. These performances are widely-known for their exceptional standards, making the reduced ticket prices to QUT showcase events a real bargain for the discerning Brisbane theatre-goer.
QUT's Head of Acting Dianne Eden inviting you to support the stars of tomorrow
With standard admission set at $40 or below, and with complimentary parking available under the South-East freeway for most performances, the one-off patron will find the Gardens Theatre as affordable as any Brisbane venue in its class. Still greater savings, however, begin with the Gardens' subscription packages, which range from an $80 Four-Matinee Student deal through to the eminently practical $222 "6 Pik". Each package not only represents a saving of between 15 and 20 per cent on single ticket price, but comes with VIP bonuses such as first choice of seats and performance times, invitations to exclusive subscriber events, free admission to QUT showcase seasons, and discount pre-show dinner deals at nearby Augustine's Restaurant.
The beautiful Mansions on George Street, home of Augustine's Restaurant
Those who prefer their drama strictly confined to the stage will find the Gardens Theatre to be among the more convenient and accessible venues in Brisbane, with the Gardens Point City Cat stop, two train stations, dozens of bus stops and the Goodwill Bridge across to Southbank all within easy strolling distance. From the fine restaurants of Little Stanley Street to the glam and glitter of the Valley, options for nearby pre- and post-show dining, drinking and dancing abound in every direction.
Syncopation from the 2012 season - Direction by Broadway's Stephen Lloyd Helper and choreography by Dancing With The Stars' Mark Hodge are typical of the Gardens Theatre's top-tier standards
Whether you envisage your next visit as being the culmination of a genteel cultural outing or the launch sequence for a screaming 24-hour bender, the Gardens Theatre's ideal location, comfortable facilities and world-class performance programme make it a failsafe choice of destination for all who love the live experience.