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Medieval dinner theatre city's newest tourist attraction.

Modelled after a similar attraction in Toronto, Thunder Bay's Northern Knights Feast is the city's newest tourism draw, and officials say the medieval-style dinner theatre is already attracting between 200 and 300 guests per week.

Lawrence Badanai, manager of marketing and promotions for Northern Knights Feast, says the venture is the brainchild of owner Rob MacLeod who worked with the Toronto production for 1.2 years and thought it would be "perfect" for Thunder Bay. The two-hour show runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening in the former Capitol movie theatre on the city's south side.

The two-theatre movie house closed down in 1999, just as the Famous Players SilverCity theatre opened its doors.

"The Capitol Theatre was selected because it's a historical building,"

Badani says. "It's also in downtown Fort William; it's a great place for an evening of entertainment. After you finish the show you can go over to (one of the nightclubs) in the area and socialize with your company."

The tongue-in-cheek dinner show has created between 30 and 40 part-time jobs in the community plus one full-time administrative position, Badanai says.

"A lot of(the employees) are drama students from Thunder Bay, and we had a couple that were university students from southern Ontario who were studying in northwestern Ontario. Those students who have gone back for the summer didn't want to go (because) they saw that there was something in the industry that interested them in Thunder Bay."

Northern Knights Feast is also pushing to forge partner ships with other businesses in the community. Badanai says two partnerships have been formed since the theatre opened its doors in early April.

"The first one so far is with Prestige Limousine," he says. "They offer limousine rides at a discounted rate for our customers to and from the feast.

"In the beginning we also had a partnership with Fay Gleeson to be able to use her dance studios to rehearse all of our performers and be able to get them up to speed."

He says the second movie area has been transformed into a theatre stage as well, and is rented out to local acting groups like Hammarskjold High School and Kim Hansen's Puppet Theatre.

He says he would like to see more partnerships developed, and notes "they're always looking" for new opportunities."

Badanai says the show is an ideal tourist attraction, noting no one to his knowledge has left a show dissatisfied yet. But he says he would like to get everyone from Thunder Bay to take in a show first.

"We haven't had any complaints about not having fun," he says. "We think it would be a really great tourist attraction, like Old Fort William, but first we want to get everyone in Thunder Bay and the region to come in."
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Title Annotation:Northern Knights Feast, Thunder Bay
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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