Inside Look with the CRT Performing Interns

We turned over our Instagram account (@experiencecortland) to the six Cortland Repertory Theatre performing interns for an exclusive look into their lives and behind the scenes during rehearsals, performances, and everything in between.

Experience Cortland sat down with the actors at the end of their takeover and dished on how they came to CRT, behind the scenes secrets, favorite spots in Cortland County, and some hilarious happenings on and off stage.

To say that these performing interns at Cortland Repertory Theatre are busy would be an understatement. I’m convinced that they do not sleep after watching their stories for their Instagram takeover. It is serious dedication that these actors have. I was able to sit down with them just before their rehearsal for “The Velveteen Rabbit” the children’s production that is happening July 15 and 21.


Experience Cortland: So, what do you guys have going on today?

Group: We are rehearsing the kids show that we’re doing this weekend and then we have Footloose tonight.

EC: Nice. I heard you guys were sold out last night?

Group: Yeah it was great and the preview night. Really fun.

EC: That’s awesome. Reminds me to get my ticket! Okay, so I am going to go down the line so you can tell me your names and I can record your initials so I can keep track of who’s saying what.

Claire Sorlie: Well, I’m Claire.

EC: I should recognize you all from the takeover… oh man. *all laugh * Okay, first question. What brought you to Cortland Repertory Theatre?

Claire: I go to school in Syracuse and the past two years I’ve auditioned here and I got hired.

Caiti Marlowe: I auditioned at a theatre like convention and um this was the best offer that I got…

EC: Just to let you know that the boss is standing behind you…

All laugh and turn. Kerby Thompson the Producing Artistic Director of Cortland Repertory Theatre since 2000 has just joined us.

Caiti: I was going to say Kerby was really nice and that I wanted to work there!

Kerby: A little louder?

*all laugh*

EC: Hang on let me just get this on tape…

Cait: …but yeah, I felt excited so.

Michael Dikegoros: I go to school at Elon in North Carolina and I think over the past three years there’s been at least one person who’s worked here and they all come back and have really good things to say. A good friend of mine actually saw West Side Story last year and she had nothing but good things to say. So, I auditioned here and we all took the 12-hour drive up and audition and yeah, wanted to work here.

Grant Paylor: Yes, the same story for me but two of my best friends worked here… last year and when I got the offer they were like you have to work here.

Aaron Jacobs: Well both of my bigs have worked here, Logan [Mortier] and Graham and you know I’d heard great things from them even before auditions but I actually auditioned at SETC [the Southeastern Theatre Conference] and I got called back and I was actually very nervous when I got called back because it was like the second day and really late and luckily Kerby [Thompson] just came in and talked to me…and talking to Kerby was great and um I’d really great things about the theatre.

McKenna Silva: I auditioned at SETC too and through all of my encounters and experiences with other companies and the vibe and positivity…

EC: Okay so here’s a fun question and you guys can jump out and answer whoever wants too but what is something about behind the scenes that might surprise people, some of the magic behind the scenes that you’ve experienced here?

Grant: I’ve been in theatre forever now and it still baffles me the collaboration that it takes like when we leave stage someone is running up and fixing a light or someone is running back to sewing a costume that just broke or someone else is fixing the sound and the orchestra is rehearsing. it just takes so many people that as an actor you forgot, you don’t see that every day but they’re working just as hard or harder you know to put on this amazing production and people only see the actors.

Michael: Yeah and going off that too, we all help out with the strikes [taking down the stage] after the shows and I was just saying to everyone just how amazed I am at how nice everyone is and how patient they are with actors. Because a lot of times when you work with other technicians they’re job is to be an expert with the lights or the set and they’re very impatient with actors that don’t know how to work a screw gun or whatever and get really, I don’t know, frustrated. I think that everyone here just loves what they’re doing so much that everyone is nice to everyone that are willing to help out.

McKenna: I’ve been consistently amazed with how the space is transformed. I love the space [Little York Pavilion]. I can see every single persons face in the audience which is so cool. It’s not scary because sometimes you look out and it’s just blackness. But we’re able to take these monster musicals and we don’t condense them at all, but we’re doing them in this smaller space and I just think that’s crazy.

Claire: I think that what I love about theatre that people you don’t know all the time is how much of a family that you become with your cast and your stage managers and everyone is a team and a family and by opening night everyone is giving presents backstage, like your opening night present. You become such a tight knit close group of people that, I mean it’s not every show that it happens but you really bond with people throughout this whole entire process.

Caiti: I think that people got a peek at this on Instagram but a costume change, like quick changes still just blow my mind…

EC: We did see that. Everyone just runs in.

Caiti: So many hands and it happens so quickly and then you just walk on stage like no big deal.

EC: Let’s talk about your time spent here in Cortland County. Do you have any favorite spots in between rehearsal times or after a performance?

Caiti: Long Island Bagel.

*the rest agree*

McKenna: I love the YMCA

Grant: I love Pita Gourmet’s hummus.

All: Yes!

Grant: So good and I just went to Israel so it’s like better than the hummus I had in Israel.

McKenna: I also love Origins. They have these gluten free vegan blondies that you can’t, I’ve never seen in my entire life…so good.

Aaron (quietly from the back): Stone Lounge.

All: Never heard of it!

*all laugh*

EC: Does anyone want to share what might be one of the funniest or most fun moment with CRT?

Michael: I really loved doing the Can-Can [dance] in La Cage [La Cage Aux Folles]. Our choreographer’s last note to us was that we couldn’t let the energy die you just had to, because the girls who did can-cans were like crazy and so he was just like when you come on you better be screaming I don’t care what you’re saying but just scream. Um, so that was always a blast for me to do.

Aaron: Um, this was just two nights ago from preview night of Footloose. And Chris [Blasting, Music Direction] told Hailey [McCormick as Ariel] to add a riff at the end of the show for the finale and I’m the only one just waiting backstage for the bows and I’m just sitting there innocently writing in my journal and I hear her go off like on this crazy riff that smacks me in the face. And I’m a person who reacts to stuff like that. So, I reacted and genuinely started cackling and laughing. It was incredible but it just totally caught me off guard and uh, my mic was on the whole time, for the whole finale. There’s a very cute moment between Ren [performed by Dan Lusardi] and Ariel where they look at each other in their eyes and Ren tells Ariel she’s beautiful and everyone else on stage is silent and then you can just hear me *imitates laughing and squealing hysterically* and I didn’t find out until after the show was over…after the bows. I was like, “I ruined that number.”

McKenna: I think the funniest moment for me that was after the fact, not when it actually happened, but afterwards was in La Cage we had to wear these black bodysuits, corset things…very tight, not fun. But I had a dress that cut me this way [one shoulder cut] so I had to take off one of the black straps. All of the sudden I was dancing with the main character Joel and I couldn’t quite feel that it [the dress] was coming down but all of the sudden I just feel his hand just kind of lift up the top!

EC: Very casually…

McKenna: Yeah and we just kept going and I didn’t think anything of it until after the fact. So, it was funny afterwards but at the time…not so much.

EC: Good thing he [Joel] was paying attention! Okay, last question. Why should people visit CRT performances at the Pavilion this summer? There are so many reasons.

Aaron: I think it’s to do with the level of professionalism that goes into every show. Not just from the actors but from everyone it’s just a very high quality of performances and you wouldn’t expect that a small town like this and it seems like there’s not a big city nearby you think that the show would do so well with the level of talent brought in that it wouldn’t be too great, but it’s such a high-quality performance.

Michael: Yeah and I think that all the shows have something to say that can really resonate with the community. Our director Mark [Reynolds] for Footloose told us why he was directing Footloose was because it related a lot to his personal life. There was a tragedy that occurred in his life and he wanted to bring that message forward, like how long is it okay for us to be grieving, like what’s the time limit on grief. Also for La Cage I found it personally extremely relevant to my life but I think that a lot of audience members weren’t expecting a show that was so extravagant and open about being who you are and I think a lot of people found it really touching. I think the shows always have something to say which is cool because a lot of times people just put on a show…

EC: It’s nice to leave the theatre feeling something or connect to it on a personal level.

Michael: Right.


You can catch these amazing interns and the rest of the wonderful cast in Footloose happening now until July 29 at the Pavilion on Little York Lake.

Cortland Repertory Theatre Performing Interns

Front Left to Right: Claire Sorlie, Caiti Marlowe, Michael Dikegoros

Back Left to Right: Grant Paylor, Aaron Jacobs, McKenna Silva