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Not quite the ‘Love Boat’:

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The middle of February—the traditional time for Canadians to book cruises in the exotic Caribbean.

But given the lowly Canadian dollar vis-a-vis the American greenback of late, going on a cruise paid for in U.S. funds isn’t all that economical. So Fort Frances Little Theatre is offering local residents a much cheaper alternative Feb. 18-21.

“Who Promised You Paradise," which kicks off next Wednesday at the Red Dog Inn, is an interactive play which takes place on the world-class cruise ship, the "S.S. Kalamari.”

Written by locals Joyce McCormick and Brian Hagarty, it sets a cast of 24 actors, many new to Little Theatre, in a melodramatic roller coaster designed to get people laughing.

“This is good for anybody," McCormick said, giving the play a "G" rating. "It’s a bit of a whodunit.”

She came up with the idea of doing a play set on a cruise ship about two-and-a-half years ago. The last interactive effort done by the local troupe was “Lena and Lenny’s Wedding," and McCormick said Little Theatre patrons have kept asking, "When are you going to do another one?”

“So I finally got brave and went to a theatre meeting and said I had an idea for an interactive," she said. "They said, ‘Write it.’”

It was then that Hagarty was brought on board to help write the plot. But while a few scenes are scripted, most of the dialogue will be improvised—meaning each night could be a little different.

Tickets are on sale at the Red Dog Inn for $28 but people are being encouraged to buy their “passports” for the cruise from Borderland Travel and International Travel Services here.

The evening starts at 6 p.m. when guests and actors alike go up the gangway and board the ship.

“You’re on a cruise, and are like anyone else on a cruise ship,” McCormick said, noting the audience would have to indulge in the cruise ship fantasy.

But she stressed audience members don’t have to worry about being drawn into embarrassing situations while on board.

“People get scared [of interactive theatre]," McCormick said. ”We have to get rid of the myth that interactive means yanked out of your seat and pulled in front of the audience and laughed at.

“You’re active only to the part of a passenger on this cruise line," she noted. "I guess you’d get involved as in any play but the actors are in the audience instead of up on the stage.”

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