Everything’s coming up roses for the Empire Theatre right now. Lewis Jones and I are having lunch at Encores, the very smart little restaurant attached to Toowoomba’s iconic theatre. As is fitting for the Garden City on the Range, we can see gardenias and overflowing beds of gorgeous pink and white roses just outside the floor-to-ceiling open windows. There’s a crisp autumn breeze, a touch of rain, but there’s no dampening of enthusiasm when Lewis talks about EPC, the Empire Theatre Projects Company – he’s its Artistic Director. The Empire goes well with the roses; it’s a beautifully restored art deco building that is justifiably the pride of the city. Lewis is clearly relishing his job at the helm of EPC. Since his appointment in 2008, his task has been to establish a company to work with and reflect the community of Queensland’s Darling Downs region.
‘Friends in Brisbane ask me, How are things up there? and they think I’m joking when I say, I have the best job in the world. I really do.’ I’m keen to hear why he thinks working in a regional city trumps a similar job in a metropolitan centre. It seems to be all about opportunity, and it’s all positive.