Who would have thought 2020 would be the year that it has been? Nothing in our generation matches what we are experiencing so far. No one has been left unscathed and although the stage has become a dark and distant place in physical presence, never in mind, we long for the thrill of live stage, music and theatre performances to return, wading our way through uncertain waters, not knowing what the future of performance has in store: John Kotzas (Chief Executive of QPAC) pointed out the last 22 weeks QPAC had hosted a total of 3 events in a time when it would have usually presented over 600! It took all night for that number to truly sink in. As we wait for the world to return to some form of ‘normal’ we undoubtedly and eagerly await what the face of theatre might look like in the latter part of 2020. Kotzas stated that theatre needs “Two great things: great artists and great audiences... it needs you.''
In a 'less is more' approach, QPAC presents An Evening with Amy Lehpamer, based inside the lovely Lyrebird Restaurant. An intimate and exclusive experience, this performance made us feel extra special, and not just because we were allowed out of the house! Accompanied on the piano by the exceptional Brendan Murtagh, we were serenaded and lead through the songs that have inspired and defined Amy Lehpamer's career in musical theatre. Social distancing restrictions may have taken away our big Broadway bonanzas but it gave something back in the dropping of the 'fourth wall’: the artist connecting with the audience by breaking down the invisible barrier a stage can create.
Social distancing measures meant that a ‘packed crowd’ constituted a dozen distanced tables with a strict “check-in, seated-only” policy. The Lyrebird has effectively become this generations new speak-easy, with Amy Lehpamer stepping in to share her secrets in what she called ''a leap of faith for you and me.'' Whether it was the intimate setting, the social distancing restrictions, or the darkened halls of QPAC's usually bustling areas, it had an almost secretive feel, perhaps creating an even more ‘devilishly exciting to be out and about’. What a strange new world we are navigating, trust the arts to make it work for them however possible.
Set against a rich red velvet background, the service and offerings at Lyrebird were paired beautifully with piano and performance. QPAC and Lyrebird worked seamlessly to showcase the talents of their respective performers; not just the smooth, dulcet tones of Amy Lehpamer and Brendan Murtagh, but also the exceptional talents of Executive Chef Joshua Wilby, alongside masterful wine pairings of Peter Scudamore-Smith. Food and wine is an art form in it's own right: the whole night was a veritable feast for the senses, executed in a highly professional manner by the staff at Lyrebird and the organisation of the QPAC team.
The night progressed, Amy showcasing her many talents, singing and playing the violin, and then indulging us, inviting her partner to perform alongside for a few songs on the acoustic guitar. Together they sang Falling Slowly from ‘Once – The Musical’ – within this moment the performance became exceptionally intimate sharing their passion for music and the the love they clearly share in real life – fuel for a deeply personal rendition of the song. Made this reviewer stop and take stock of how lucky we are to be afforded the opportunity to share in such a rare and exclusive event in current times. The personalised feel of this type of performance has given me hope for the slow but exciting return of the arts.
While the world is busy getting back to basics – whether it be baking bread from scratch; learning to make and create what we always rushed to outsource; or just making time for what really matters, the Arts community is working hard. Not only are they adapting, they are breaking the mould to reach their audience in any way, one experience at a time. QPAC is working tirelessly to find a way to retain their passion and reach the hungry crowds.
An Evening with Amy Lehpamer
Venue: Lyrebird Restaurant | QPAC, Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank, Brisbane
Dates: 4 – 5 Sep 2020
Tickets: $149 (incl. dinner)
Bookings: qpac.com.au | 136 246