Memories of Mike Benzie

MIKE BENZIE

Mike Benzie- A tribute to the Wee Man of Big Bad Wolf

Big Bad Wolf’s Design Consultant Mike Benzie sadly passed away after a long period of illness on July 15th 2013. A former set designer with Falkirk Children’s Theatre, Mike initially came on board with Big Bad Wolf for their very first production- Aladdin in 2008 bringing with him a wealth of talent and inspiration. Sadly ill health forced Mike to take a back seat but not before he passed his vast experience on to Hilary Wallace who continues to this day in the role of set designer. She remembers….

 

“When I first met Mike at the workshop- with his joggers, woolly hat, long curly hair and beard he seemed to belong to an era of art teachers that is no more! He probably thought I wouldn’t hang around long enough in the cold of the workshop; however he set me to task and after seeing my capabilities was happy to let me get on with the painting. Under his guidance that first year of my involvement (Beauty and The Beast- 2010) I was given my most valuable art learning in years. We spent many an afternoon working together and building a friendship- quite a lot of fun was to be had-sometimes at my expense! Mike’s talent was not just with the overall look, but was also with the careful technical details- things that I will only ever dream of.

My second year Mike was unwell and passed the design and workshop overseeing to myself- giving me the confidence to take it on telling me I was able. He still went over my designs and helped me on the technical side of things. He was well enough to come and see the set on stage (The Wizz – 2011) and to my relief he was happy with it. For the last two years Mike was well enough to come back to the workshop where he still allowed me the task of designing but offering me advice when needed. It was great having him back and I loved having the mentor in my artistic learning that had been missing for so long. Mike helped me fulfil a dream of working with stage sets and gave me the opportunity and confidence to do this and I am now on my fourth show. I only had the chance to learn a tiny amount of Mike’s skill and knowledge in the short time I knew him. The wonderful sets that have become such a part of Big Bad Wolf shows are down to Mike’s hard work and dedication. Whenever he was pleased with my work his praise was “Aye that’ll do it” and I am hoping that during this next production of Seussical the Musical I still might hear them echoing from my unassuming wee mentor”

 

Mike Benzie’s artistic talent and flair will continue to influence future Big Bad Wolf productions as he set a standard of excellence that has become synonymous with this company. His attention to detail and his vision of how a stage should look was second to none and we were proud to have him as part of the team. He will be sadly missed.

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2 Responses to Memories of Mike Benzie

  1. Blair Dewar October 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    I first met Mike in 1982 when I joined Falkirk Children’s Theatre and was amazed at the set. My dad started to help out as Stage Crew and in the old workshop and used to rave about the genius that was Mike. Whilst I knew Mike from being a member of the cast I never really got to know him until the year the Youth Theatre went to France where he was one of our ‘chaperones’. A few years later I then used to help out as Stage Crew after I left FYT and saw Mikes creations come to life. However it wasn’t till I started to work with him through BBW that I truly appreciated his genius. To see something come alive from a mere spark of an idea to being fully realised on Stage. I remember the set being built for Beauty and the Beast. Mike would give us a picture and tell us to build it, which we did. He would give us more and more but we weren’t sure what we were building. Then we built the different parts up on the town hall stage and every piece slotted into place to create the magical castle that pulled down, slid along and opened up into all these different rooms of the castle. …magnificent vision. He may have been a small man but his talent and vision was gigantic. We will all miss you Mike.

  2. Fred Lowe October 23, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    I had the wonderful privilege of working as crew then props with Mike for many years. His talent was limitless and his heart was immense. Many people use the word genius but on this occasion it is aptly applied for the man was a genius. Watching as he sat with a piece of paper drawing on a piece of wood or a back cloth wondering what was going to happen, then seeing a creation which was so complicated we often wondered how we could have built it. I am sad to loose him but proud and privileged to have called him a friend and colleague. Thanks Mike.

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