Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 16, 2008

GUIDING LIGHT: Western New York native lands in Lockport to guide These Working Actors.

Debra Cole, a 46-year-old native of Buffalo, spent years on and off Broadway as an actor, but an illness she kept secret for years has brought her back to the Niagara Frontier where she gives acting classes for These Working Actors.

Her career has included doing voice-overs, performing on Broadway, the Lincoln Center, television and soap operas. She taught performance in New York City and worked as Artistic Director at the Smith Opera House.

Cole founded These Working Actors in Buffalo and has moved classes at the Second Presbyterian Church on Van Buren Street in Lockport. The classes are held Sundays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Cole began acting as a teenager in Buffalo and received the Jane Keeler Scholarship while a student at St. Joseph’s Academy. Keeler was the founder of Studio Arena Theatre. Cole received a scholarship to the New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

She has worked with James Earl Jones and Mario Van Peebles on Arts and Entertainment Network and with Kevin Bacon on a soap opera. Her soap opera appearances include “Guiding Light,” “As the World Turns” and “Ryan’s Hope.”

At 46, Cole has progressive multiple sclerosis and now lives Lockport with her significant other, Mike Marion. She is house-sitting and dog-sitting for a friend who is going to medical school in the Netherlands.

“I never expected to fall in love with a guy from Buffalo,” she said. “I left Buffalo when I was a 17-year-old and I would have bet you $5 million I’m never coming back ... I’m starting a whole new round. If people are interested, they should call.” (717-2649)

Question: Why did These Working Actors relocate to Lockport?

Answer: Lockport is kind of fertile ground. There are a lot of families here. It gets tougher and tougher in Buffalo to do theater if you’re not one of the big three.

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