News in Cortland NY

Grand Opening of "CRT Downtown"

After five years of fund raising and major renovations, Cortland Repertory Theatre is thrilled to announce the grand opening of “CRT Downtown”, their new theatrical venue at 24 Port Watson Street in downtown Cortland. The grand opening starts with a concert by the Buddy Holly Tribute Band “The Rave-Ons”, featuring Todd Meredith, the star of CRT’s productions of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash”. The concerts will be held on May 8th and 9th at 7:30. Tickets are $35.00 each and are on sale at CRT Downtown or by calling 607-756-2627. Beer, wine and refreshments will be for sale at the concert.

“It’s almost unbelievable that we’re at this point!” Producing Artistic Director Kerby Thompson says. “Everyone at CRT is so excited to open for business, and there’s no better way to kick it off than with the Rave-Ons.” He points out that the production of “Buddy” in 2013 was one of CRT’s top selling shows in the history of the theatre, so it’s fitting to have Meredith and his tribute band back to celebrate this next step in the future of CRT. “Todd was a performing intern here in 2006, and has since made a career of playing Buddy Holly. He is definitely a good friend of CRT and there was no doubt that we wanted his band back to celebrate our opening.”

Thompson also acknowledges the time and hard work that the CRT Capital Campaign Committee put in to create this new performance space. “This project started when CRT purchased the former Recreation Bowling Alleys in December of 2009.” Thompson says. “It’s been a long haul of raising funds and making decisions on the design and renovation of the building, and we’re not done yet. But we are ready to start having events, which is incredibly exciting!” Current co-chairs of the campaign, Dorothea Fowler and Garrison Marsted, along with CRT Board President John Folmer and VP Tom Knobel, led the non-profit organization thru the fund raising effort. Senator James L. Seward has also lent his support to the project, and has checked in on the building progress along the way. Thompson says “It has certainly been a challenge, especially in these tough economic years. But there are many supporters in our area who see the value of having the arts in our community and how it improves our quality of life.” Thompson says. Funds still need to be raised for seating risers and theatre seats, along with theatrical lighting equipment. In the meantime, CRT will rent chairs for events.

Thanks to nearly $2 million dollars raised, the building now holds CRT’s administration and box offices, a spacious lobby, new rest rooms, a wood working shop to build theatrical sets, a catering kitchen, dressing rooms and most importantly, a large “black box” theatre that can seat up to 300 people. “A black box is basically a large room, with movable chairs and seating risers” Thompson explains. “It’s not what you might think of as a traditional theatre, but it gives us the flexibility to arrange the seats and staging for different productions.” CRT also plans to make the space available for weddings and other events around their production schedule. The building has a small kitchen for catered events but Thompson says it will not be a dinner theatre. “We’d rather people support the local restaurants and then come to our shows. This building should been seen as a help in downtown growth as well.”

Another significant part of programming for the new building is expanded theatrical programs for youth. “We’ll use this winter space to expand on our current summer camps and workshops.” Plans are in the works for classes with visiting artists, play writing classes for kids and adults, and technical theatre workshops for people interested in theatrical design.

“It’s an exciting time for Cortland”, Thompson says. “It seems like we’ve been working so hard just to get to this point, but now the real work begins!” For more information or to order tickets for The Rave-Ons, call 607-756-2627.