Stars come to Cutty Sark as ship turns into theatre

By Rob Virtue on January 21, 2014 12:27 PM |

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The historic Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich is being given a new direction in life - as a theatre space.

Stars such as Ross Noble (pictured below), Alan Davies and Griff Rhys Jones will be performing to intimate sold-out crowds of 85 over the next few of weeks.

The events will be held in the lower hold, previously where tea and wool were stacked during the ship's famous voyages, with staff able to transform the area in just half an hour.

Richard Doughty, director of the tea clipper turned tourist attraction, said it was an exciting development.

"In general, Cutty Sark appeals to family audiences, people with an interest in the sea and to older generations," he said.

"To be able to put on a programme for people as young as late teens and early 20s allows us to appeal to a whole new audience. We're extending the reach of the ship."

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Around 600,000 people have visited the 144-year-old ship since the Queen reopened it in April 2012 following extensive renovation after a devastating fire.

And the new theatre space adds another revenue stream for the venue.

"The Cutty Sark has always been a business from when it was going to China for tea or Australia for wool," said Richard. "And that's still the case today. To make it sustainable we need to use the ship 24/7."

Called the Michael Edwards Studio Theatre the opening run will also see sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, comedian Richard Herring and singer Karine Polwart entertaining the crowds.

There's also a stunt man turned mind-reader performing.

Matt Stirling, who has starred in all five Harry Potter films, Fast and Furious as Vin Diesel's stunt double and Pirates of the Caribbean, filmed in Greenwich, is also a hypnotist and mentalist.

He will be bringing his show, Mind Magic, to the Cutty Sark on February 15.

"We're showing how psychics read minds," he said. "How they predict things using missdirection and neuro-linguistic programming.

"It's a fantastic venue. It's so isolated, so quiet, you can hear a pin drop. There's always background noises in clubs but this is like an isolation tank."

Most of the performances have sold out but there are still tickets available for shows including Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance featuring internationally renowned harpist Gabriella Dall'Olio and a showcase from theatre group Corelli College.

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