With nearly 1,000 staterooms and an interior style that evokes the elegance of eras bygone, Cunard’s Queen Victoria embarked on its maiden world cruise after a lavish naming ceremony at Southampton Docks in December 2007. The ceremony was presided over by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with an audience of 2,000 invited guests.

Blackout played a substantial role in staging the event. Working for Robbie Williams Productions with production designers Stufish, Ala Pratt, designer at Stufish, outlines the work involved:

“The Stufish design for the Queen Victoria naming ceremony stage invoked the luxury of a Victorian theatre,” explains Pratt. “Blackout helped create the atmosphere by providing drapes for the royal and VIP areas, the main tabs plus the blacks, and gauze used for the final reveals. The red velour stage curtain was stencil painted with a gold lower border, and was inspired by great opera houses of the past. Blackout, with scenic artist Marie White, worked with Stufish to achieve an elegant look for the application of this pattern. The main curtain was enhanced further by the movement that Blackout achieved with a tableau-style lift, in collaboration with automation provided by Stage One.”

Creating the illusion of a grand, historic theatrical venue within a temporary, tented structure was no mean feat. It began with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines playing “God Save The Queen,” and included a performance by renowned mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a theatre show depicting the history of Cunard, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, and performances by three of the world’s best-known tenors: Jon Christos, Alfie Boe, and Gardar Thor Cortes.

Describing the work undertaken to create the right ambience around the stage, Blackout’s MD Steve Tuck says, “We provided a complex and sumptuous set of plum velour drapes, all with 100% fullness, with plum and gold velour swags and tails to backdrop the VIP areas either side of stage, all the forestage areas and for the stage main tabs. We also used a host of black wool serge drapes for stage masking and around the structure and seating blocks. The main tabs were 29 meters wide and over 10 meters high; they had 100 percent fullness sewn in and the bottom 2 meters were embellished with an ornate, gold-painted pattern. These drapes opened vertically, lifted by two Qmotion-controlled Stage One 2 meters -per-minute winches.”

Similar Stage One winches were used to track open a grey gauze curtain and rear-stage black tabs as the bow of the ship was finally and dramatically revealed to the audience, the whole assemblage being carried on Blackout truss, motors and tracks.

“From the outset, we knew that the client wanted to put on a spectacular show,” concludes Tuck, “and while it was hard work, it was very rewarding to see such an important and prestigious ceremony come to fruition.”

To read more about the Queen Victoria, please see Stage Technologies’ Automation System Fit For A Queen