Meet the Creative Team
L. Don Swartz
Don holds a BA in Theatre Education from Concordia University, Chicago and a MAH in Theatre and English from SUNY at Buffalo. As an actor, Don has appeared with the Ghostlight, TOY, UB Theatre, and Shakespeare in the Park. Artistic and Executive 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. His original titles include All Through the Night, Noodles, The Lodger, A Night of Dark Intent, Deep End of the Dark, Final Notice, Halloween Dreams, Halloween Screams, The Birds That Stay, The Forest of the Dead, The Silver Lady, Danse Macabre, and the iconic Lottie and Bernice franchise. His adaptions include: A Christmas Carol, Little Women, Frankenstein, The Monkey's Paw, Tales from the Enchanted City, The Edgar Allan Poe Show, and Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula. Copies 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. Don has directed over 130 plays and has appeared in almost as many.
DJ has been part of the Ghostlight Theatre since he was born. He was first seen in the 2007 production of Oliver! and since then has taken on many roles including Tom Sawyer in Tom Sawyer, Kyle in The Birds That Stay, and George in All Through the Night. DJ made his directorial debut in 2017 with Noodles and has since tackled The Lottie and Bernice Show, our annual production of Night of the Living Dead, Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula, and his favorite, All Through the Night. He is the leader of the theatre's Creative Committee, the 2022 recipient of the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award, and was the very first recipient of the Jed Woomer Memorial Spirit Award. He can't wait to continue to grow in this theatre.
Julie has been an active member of the company since 1986. She started as a chorus girl in Oklahoma! Since then, she has been involved with every show. Some of her favorite roles include Yente in Fiddler on the Roof (2012 and 2001), Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!, Marian in The Music Man, Justine in Halloween Screams and Final Notice, Mrs. MacDoogle in Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula (2010), Ingrid in A Night of Dark Intent, Anne and Sarah in All Through the Night, and the Maid of Honor in Lottie and Bernice: Regrets Only. When not on stage, Julie has been seen constructing sets, costuming, running lights and sound, and helping to run the house. She is secretary of Starry Night Theatre Inc.'s board and a past recipient of the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award. She is currently our head costumer, teaches the children's acting class, and is a member of our Creative Committee where she is in charge of house management.
Vanessa first joined the Ghostlight Theatre Company in 2004, appearing in A Christmas Carol. Over the years, she's appeared in many productions including The Innocents, It's a Wonderful Life, The Importance of Being Earnest, Here We Sit, 10 Little Indians, All Through the Night, Noodles (2007), The Lottie and Bernice Show, A Night of Dark Intent (2008 and 2018), Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula (as Mina in 2010 and Professor van Helsing in 2020), Frankenstein, Lottie and Bernice: Regrets Only, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Ah, Wilderness!, The Curious Savage, The Lodger, The Silver Lady, Tales from the Ghostlight, and Jekyll/Hyde. She assists with costume design and teaches the teens acting class. She is the first-ever recipient of Starry Night Theatre's kindness award and is a member of the Creative Committee.
Gary W. Cox
Gary started with the Ghostlight in 2011, first appearing in Our Town. He had not been on the stage in 25 years. Since then, he hasn't gone anywhere else. Gary has performed on stage as well as the light and sound boards. He is also fortunate to be a member of the theatre's board and honored recipient of the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award. Most recently, he's been asked to participate in the Creative Committee. He looks forward to many more seasons at the Ghostlight.
VJ recently joined the Ghostlight Theatre Company when he debuted in The Curious Savage in 2018. Since then. he's become a vital member of the company, actively participating in our set construction crews. While he is extremely active behind-the-scenes, he's just as active on stage, having appeared in shows such as All Through the Night (as George and Irving), The Lodger, The Lottie and Bernice Show, The Silver Lady, Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula, and Tales from the Ghostlight. VJ is also a member of our Creative Committee and the 2022 recipient of the Kindness Matters Award.
Ryan first joined the Ghostlight in our 2015 summer musical, Nunsense: the Mega Musical. He became a student of our acting classes before going on to perform in multiple shows over the years. You may have spotted him on stage in productions such as All Through the Night, Tom Sawyer, Lottie and Bernice: Livin' Large, The Birds That Stay, A Christmas Carol, The Edgar Allan Poe Show, Child's Play, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Ah, Wilderness!, Nunsense II: The Second Coming, The Lottie and Bernice Show, Beauty and the Beast, and Night of the Living Dead. Ryan is also extremely active behind-the-scenes, helping to construct every set, and even running lights and sound. He is a past recipient of the Jed Woomer Memorial Spirit Award (2017) and the John Kerr Memorial Scholarship (2021). Ryan is also a member of our Creative Committee.
Carla has been a member of the company since 2004. She has a BA in Liberal Arts with her concentrations in theatre and communications. She has been in many productions over the years, but her favorite roles include Amy March in Little Women, Sarah in All Through the Night, and Barbara in Night of the Living Dead. Carla made her directorial debut at the Ghostlight when she co-directed 2020's production of Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula with DJ Swartz. You can find Carla not only on stage but building sets, ushering, and running lights for productions. She is also a past recipient of the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award and a member of the Creative Committee, focusing on connecting the theatre with outside groups such as local schools.
Amanda has been part of the Ghostlight since 2006. Over the years, she's appeared on stage as Madge in Picnic, Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Helen in The Spiral Staircase, Nell (aka Neal) in All Through the Night, Elaine in Noodles, Daisy in The Lodger, Mina in Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula, and Clarice in Jekyll/Hyde. She runs the Starry Night Theatre, Inc social media pages and in 2022, her original adaption of The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde was performed on the stage which she co-directed with L. Don Swartz. She is a member of the theatre's Creative Committee and a recipient of the John Kerr Memorial Scholarship (2008) and the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award (2021).
Chris first joined the Ghostlight Theatre Company in 1995 in our production of The Homecoming. Over the years, he appeared in shows such as The Importance of Being Earnest, Here We Sit, Dearly Departed, Frankenstein, Treasure Island, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Uninvited, Little Women, The Boys Next Door, The Edgar Allan Poe Show, Noodles, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, The Lodger, Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula, and Jekyll/Hyde where he originated the role of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Chris is a talented artist that has helped construct beautiful sets over the years (Frankenstein, The Lodger, and Jekyll/Hyde just to name a few) and helps oversee many of our more artistic endeavors at the theatre. He is also a past recipient of the Stephen Holesko Memorial Award (2018).
Debby Koszelak Swartz
Debby has a BS in Elementary Education with an extension in English from Buffalo State College. She received her MA in Theatre and English from the University of Buffalo. She has been involved in theatre since 1975. She works in all facets of the theatre arts. She is the director of our annual summer musical and an actress most known for her role as Bernice in the Lottie & Bernice franchise. Her favorite acting roles include Bernice of 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
Joann has been a proud member of the company since its beginning. 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 has proudly taught for over 20 years. She holds a MAH with a concentration in Theatre and Music, and proudly teaches chorus, music, and is the director of the drama program for Frontier Middle School.