After recently completing their run of The Gaol Experience at the Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne’s innovative pop-up Theatre Restaurant ‘Queens of the Damned’ are thrilled to announce their next dinner and show adventure… The Pirate Experience! Every Saturday night audiences will fully immerse themselves in a world of all things Pirates, set across four rooms of the 100 year old heritage-listed Mission to Seafarers maritime building.

A thrilling new venture for co-owners, Holly Mouat and Monica Star, The Pirate Experience follows the signature cabaret, burlesque feel with a tale to tell the artists have cultivated over time after the pair worked together for a few years producing shows in clubs and bars.

“Our shows have always had a burlesque, parody, variety style with an underlying theme,” says Mouat.

The partners have always wanted to open their own Theatre Restaurant but, the confess,  the overheads and start up costs of having their own venue was out of reach. They could also never decide what the theme would be if they were to do so. However, the decision to use venues that already exist, sealed the deal. “Being pop-up has allowed us to change, adapt and expand as us and our audiences grow,” says Mouat. “We have developed a formula that can now be taken to any space and applied to any theme and this is what allows us to run a complete Theatre Restaurant experience anywhere we like!”

The Pirate Experience is described as the complete night out and the perfect choice for special occasions. Guests will begin their journey in the Castaways Courtyard, getting shipwrecked by the fire with sea shanties, drunken sailors and fire breathing pirates.

A two course dinner follows and will be served in the Treasure Cove, (also known as the Norla Dome, the former gymnasium originally built for Seafarers in 1920). The historic dome will be transformed into a mystical underwater world of mermaids and treasure. Twelve themed cocktails will be available, all based on the different characters in the show.

After dinner, guests will move to the Theatre Dock for a hilarious and sexy Pirate themed cabaret show. Expect a night of cutthroat comedy, bold burlesque, and swashbuckling sideshow with some funny audience participation and epic circus acts. Beware… the Burlesque beauties have got the booty and aren’t afraid to show it!

The team deliberately choose and use venues with a point of difference or a historical significance because, they say, they enjoy the creative challenge of transforming an unconventional space. “We also love showcasing these locations in a way they’ve never been seen before.” The philosophy is that people visiting and utilizing these buildings is the number one thing that helps protect and preserve the heritage significance and future use of these spaces. The team is forever searching for unique locations. Sometimes the theme is inspired by the venue (for example their Prison themed dinner and show at the Old Melbourne Gaol) but in this case the Pirate theme was the inspiration and it was a matter of finding somewhere that suits.

Mouat and Star agree that The Mission to Seafarers holds such a rich maritime history and the entire aesthetic of the building reflects this. “Because we set up and pack down the entire experience every night we are often limited with set dressing, so we do try to find spaces that can be quickly transformed and used as close to their natural state as possible. 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 over 100 years and are still doing so to this day. Our venue hire and the takings over the bar will directly contribute towards the ongoing works of the charity. This was a huge deciding factor for us.”

The creative and innovative co-owners do change their themes regularly, so it was inevitable that a Pirate theme was something that was always on the cards. They state it was always just a matter of where and when. They explain that during the lockdowns of 2020 much time was spent writing shows and concepts for future experiences, so when the time was right they would just have to find the right space. “We had about three different concepts ready to go and visited a number of sites, but once we had seen the Mission to Seafarers we both knew it had to be Pirates.” Mouat and Star have wasted no time with the venue being found in December and  production beginning the next day!

However, the  team acknowledge it’s not all plain sailing, there are so many factors that need to be taken into account when finding the right space.

“The first one always is, is the venue even available? Then, are they on board, do they understand the vision, do they like what we do and are they ready to have us weekly? As we aren’t a permanent installation in these spaces, we do pop up and pack down literally everything, every single time we have a show. This includes all sets, staging, lights, sound, backstage, costumes, seating, tables, bar, kitchen and more. Logistically, this is a huge task and takes a lot of planning and preparation week to week across all departments.” say Mouat and Star.

Queens of the Damned is the brainchild of Madam Dreadful and Holly Wouldn’t (the wonderful alter egos of Star and Mouat) and with 10 years combined experience in event production, dinner theatre and live performance, this brilliantly creative and passionate team is sure to deliver.

“With all of the pressures of day to day life we aim to create a space for adults to have fun, have a laugh, be a bit cheeky, let go and just enjoy spending time with one another,” say the pair. “People love Theatre Restaurants and they have been a part of Melbourne’s nightlife for a very long time, but we really felt we could bring some new elements to the market by incorporating the burlesque and cheekiness into our shows. The number one thing for us is the happiness of our customers. We personalise the experience from the very beginning, all of our bookings are manually processed in our box office and every element of the night is personalised for the guest experience. Our cast and crew learn the names of all our special occasions and we incorporate them into the night wherever possible. People coming together is the heart of our business and the cast to audience interactions will never be replaced with technical solutions. Long term, we aim to be open multiple nights a week with more than one experience running at a time.”

The three leads of this show are comedians James Seamark, Andrew Iles and singer/songwriter Enya Angel. The show is complemented by circus performers Mark McLauchlan and Zia Electric, sword swallower Alexander Romanin and burlesque performer Alvira Snow. There are also five dancers and three actors as part of the roving floor team. Mouat and Star also perform burlesque, sideshow, fire and aerial acts in the show. The talented technical crew is run by Marcus Mailer, Angus Strachan and Stevie Galati.

For the pair, some of the most memorable and joyful experiences come from writing the concepts and parody’s for the show.

“Sometimes we come up with themes and locations for experiences that are totally unrealistic and ridiculous just for a personal laugh,” the say. “The most joyful experience is hearing positive feedback from our audiences and seeing people return again and again every time we do something new. People celebrate some of their biggest special occasions with us, so seeing them really have a great time is always what makes all the hard work worth it.”

Mouat and Star cite professionally, strong business women and the burlesque queens of the past who forever challenged the rules, as their inspirations. “Creatively, we are inspired by everything around us. We find the humour in everyday concepts and characters and then bring them to the stage through our parody and burlesque. At Queens of the Damned we have a “never say no to a Queen” policy – where no idea is considered too out there, bizarre or unrealistic.”

The Pirate Experience will run on Saturday nights from 7:30PM – 10:30PM . Tickets start at $75.00pp. The event is strictly 18+ and includes sexual references and adult themes. All Queens of the Damned experiences are pop-up and run for a limited time only, with locations and themes changing every 18-24 months. This allows audiences to fall in love with the royal family over and over again!

Address: Queens of the Damned Theatre Restaurant. 717 Flinders Street, Melbourne. Socials: @queensofthedamnedcabaret

Booking Enquiries: [email protected]

All Queens of the Damned experiences are pop-up and run for a limited time only, so don’t miss out!