The Ghostlight Theatre Company was founded in 1972 by Father Louis Dolinic as the NT Summer Theatre Workshop. The name was changed to NT Theatre Workshop in 1983 and to the Ghostlight in 1988. The company's name was changed to Starry Night Theatre, Inc., in 2001. Starry Night Theatre has produced over 170 stage productions including musicals, classics, dramas, comedies, children's theatre, and world premieres. Starry Night Theatre has launched over 40 new plays that have been published and produced in 48 states, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Greece. Starry Night Theatre is a ten-time winner of arts & humanities awards on the local, regional and national levels. In 2016, Starry Night Theatre won the Teddi Award from Camp Goods and Special Times.
Starry Night Theatre, Inc. was born on March 22, 2001. Starry Night is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Arts and Education organization. The mission of Starry Night Theatre is to protect and preserve the Ghostlight Theatre at 170 Schenck Street in North Tonawanda, New York, and to produce quality and meaningful theatre experiences for all ages. The name Starry Night comes from the Vincent Van Gogh painting of the same title. You can see the extraordinary painting displayed on the wall under the balcony of the Ghostlight Theatre. Van Gogh painted Starry Night the same year the church was built: 1889.
133 years old and still standing, the history of the Ghostlight Theatre...
On a rainy Halloween in 1889, the cornerstone was laid for the Evangelical Friedens Church of North Tonawanda at the corner of Schenck and Vandervoort Streets. On September 1, 1890, the Church was completed. Designed by George Fischer of the Gombert & Thompson Company, the church featured an 80-foot steeple and could seat 400. The bell, purchased from the First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo, was cast by the Meenely Foundry in West Troy, New York in 1851. It weighs 2,800 pounds and the diameter at its mouth is 52 inches. In 1918, a Hope Jones organ, built by the Wurlitzer Company, was installed. In June 2000, the Frieden's United Church of Christ Congregation moved into their new home in Amherst.
January 2001, the church was acquired by the newly formed Starry Night Theatre, Inc. and named the Ghostlight Theatre. Early restoration projects included a new roof, four new forced-air furnaces, glass block windows for the basement, air-conditioning, a fresh coat of paint on the interior and exterior, and installing a wheelchair lift. Subsequent projects have included siding for the building, digging a trench around the basement, a new ticket booth, a handicap restroom, risers in the auditorium, a new porch, a new technical booth, an art gallery, lower level restrooms have been refurbished, and a new lounge in the lower level. Today, the Ghostlight Theatre seats 208 on the main floor with a second-floor costume shop and a set construction shop, storage, lounge, art gallery, and snack bar on the lower level. Yes, the Theatre is haunted.
We have produced over 100 shows since opening over 20 years ago...
L. Don Swartz
Don has appeared with the Ghostlight, TOY, UB Theatre, and Shakespeare in the Park. Director of Starry Night/Ghostlight since 1982, Don has published over 30 scripts that have been performed in 48 states, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Greece. Don has directed over 130 plays and has appeared in almost as manyCopies of Don's plays can be ordered at Concord Theatricals, Dramatic Publishing Company, Eldridge Publishing, Big Dog Publishing, Norman Maine Plays, and Heartland Plays, Inc.
Debby Koszelak Swartz
Debby has worked in all facets of the theatre arts since 1975. She was the director of our annual summer musical for 18 years as well as an actress most known for her role as Bernice in the Lottie and Bernice franchise. Her favorite acting roles include Bernice in the Lottie & Bernice duo, the dead grandmother in The Birds That Stay, Violet in All Through the Night, and Gram (2011) and Autumn (1992) in Halloween Dreams. Her favorite shows she's directed are Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver!, Big River, Pippin, and Beauty and the Beast.
Joann V. Mis
She has been performing in productions and with local choral groups for almost 30 years. Needless to say, performance is a big part of her creative outlet. Some of her favorite roles include van Helsing in Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula (2010), Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Nancy in Oliver!, Mrs. Webb in Our Town, and (of course) Lottie of the Lottie and Bernice series. Joann has also been very honored to serve as music director for the theatre for over 20 summer musicals. She developed and instructed a summer theatre arts program for the Frontier district which she proudly taught at for over 20 years. She was also the director of the Frontier Middle School drama program.
Jesse started with the theater in 1982 as directors assistant and a sailor who couldn't dance. Since then he's performed many roles too numerous to name. Some favorites are Sal in Lottie and Bernice, Sailor in Ten November, Charley in All Through the Night, Charley in The Foreigner, stage manager in Our Town and so many others. Jesse held the title of Technical Director for many years and served on the board. His work as Technical Director will always be some of his favorite moments. Although Jesse is mostly retired, he helps when and where he can and tries to make every show. Jesse's company JDS Electrical sponsors the podcast and will continue to do so.