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19 January, 2021

Cole and Rhys: A friendship born under lights

A tribute to Cole Wyatt by Rhys Thomas

By Rhys Thomas

Cole (right) and I at our high school formal in 2018.

A TRIBUTE TO COLE WYATT BY RHYS THOMAS

COLE Wyatt, who tragically passed away late last year, was a dear friend and inspiration to many in the community who had the joy of being part of his short, yet bright life, myself included. 

I met Cole in high school as we both attended Mareeba State High. We were wide-eyed and fresh-faced little year 8’s beginning again at the bottom of the food chain. 

My friendship with Cole was like any other in the beginning, a short nod in passing with not many words exchanged.

I realised that his passion for the dramatic and theatrical rivaled mine when we were put together in the same drama class. We competed against each other, but more importantly we learned from each other. 

From there our friendship bloomed and we bonded over our mutual interest of making ourselves look like fools for the amusement of others. 

From wearing dresses whilst performing Romeo and Juliet, to delivering our lines in the most absurd ways, we always found fun in everything we did. 

We grew ever closer towards the end of our schooling years, even getting related names on our senior shirts – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – paying homage to an absurd play that we acted out together. 

In year 12 Cole and I were convinced to star in the school musical ‘Back to the 80’s’ and it was there that Cole’s alter ego, Michael Feldman was born. 

Cole was the star of the show and everyone knew it. He became a different person on stage as he fully enveloped himself in his role, often convincing himself it was real, because to him it was. 

Long after the play had ended we continued to dance to the song Footloose whenever we ended up at a party together or just for fun. 

After graduation Cole convinced me to act in my first production for the Mareeba Theatre Group with him, Apollo’s Tonic.

I played the brawny simple-minded henchman, while Cole played the heroic cop. We were enemies on stage, but backstage you couldn’t take us away from each other.

In 2020 we met on stage again for what would end up being Cole’s last performance, Drinking Habits. 

The play was full of young actors with Cole and I being the eldest at a tender 19 years of age. We were often the most immature, disrupting practice and embracing each other much to the dismay of the other cast members. 

Looking back now, I wish we embraced each other more as it would be the last time we would be under lights together.

Cole brought nothing but enjoyment and happiness to every life he touched, mine included. 

He would always put others before himself, he was a true performer and an even truer friend. 

Until we meet again centre stage.


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