Pirates, burlesque and sideshows arrr-ive at the Mission

Pirates, burlesque and sideshows arrr-ive at the Mission

By Jess Carrascalao Heard

The Mission to Seafarers will soon welcome sea shanties, fire-breathers and the cackle of pirates, with Queens of the Damned Theatre Restaurant soon opening a pop-up “Pirate Experience”.

The experience, which starts in May, will see guests treated to dinner, themed drinks, comedy and a pirate burlesque show, all while showcas- ing the heritage-listed building.

Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV) CEO Sue Dight is excited to welcome the theatre group to the venue.

“I looked at how they operated at the Old Melbourne Gaol, and got excited by the activity that they had brought to the Gaol ... they have great experience and we’re looking forward to their activity here,” she said.

The Pirate Experience will see guests moving through four areas, beginning with a welcome in the courtyard by fire-breathing pirates, drunken sailors and sea shanties performed by Shantily Clad.

Guests will then head to a transformed, underwater-themed Norla Dome, where they will be treated to a two-course dinner, with the opportunity to have a swig of a choice of 12 themed cocktails.

Finally, guests will make their way to the Main Hall (the “Theatre Dock”) for the main event: an 18-plus only show, with saucy pirate burlesque, sideshow acts and comedy, all with a big dash of history.

VIPs (which, of course, stands for “Very Important Pirates”) will get exclusive treatment with a private room, early arrival options and a free cocktail thrown in.

Queens of the Damned Theatre Restaurant co-owner Holly Mouat (or “Holly Highboots” in the pirate world) said she wanted guests to feel as though they had been on an historic ad- venture together.

“With all of the pressures of day-to-day life we aim to create a space for adults to have fun, have a laugh, let go and just enjoy spending time with one another,” she said.

Ms Mouat, and co-owner Monica Star, worked hard during lockdown last year, coming up with show ideas for future seasons, includ- ing a pirate-themed show.

When they visited the Mission to Seafarers they knew they had to go with their pirate idea, and were captivated by the aesthetic of the building and its rich maritime history.

The fact that the building was home to MtSV was a “deciding factor” for Ms Mouat.

“The venue is run by the Mission to Seafarers charity who have played such an important part in supporting the welfare of seafarers all over the world for more than 100 years,” she said.

“Our venue hire and the takings over the bar will directly contribute towards the ongoing works of the charity.”

Ms Dight is looking forward to the opportu- nity to help educate new audiences about the Mission to Seafarers.

“We’re looking forward to the activity and the excitement, increasing our capacity and [opening] the place to new audiences to get them to understand exactly why the building’s still here, and what our services are,” she said.

“The team at Queens of the Damned have promised they will educate their audiences about our work.”

The Pirate Experience comes after Queens of the Damned Theatre Restaurant’s sell-out season at the Old Melbourne Gaol, which saw a cabaret takeover of three levels of the former jail, including a two-course meal in the original cell block.

Ms Mouat said the company loved showcas- ing historical buildings in “a way they’ve never been seen before”.

“People visiting and utilising these buildings is the number one thing that helps protect and preserve the heritage significance and future use of these spaces,” she said.

The Pirate Experience will kick off on May 15, and will be held every Saturday until the end of December •

For more information: queensofthedamnedcabaret.com

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