Mary Bentley: Willoughby Musical Society

bentley mary2What is it that drives those people who work behind the scenes? Why do they stay up all night sewing costumes or stitching little light globes into curtains, or rechanging a leg.. or repainting a back cloth which is pink - but the artistic director wanted puce. They are rarely seen, except we know they exist because their work is there for all to see. They sometimes get a mention in the program but are mostly forgotten when all the thanks are dished by the President at the end of the show. Some would die of fright if they were made to actually get up on stage in front of an audience, yet they continue to turn up, time after time.

There is one person I know. Her name is Mary Bentley. Her theatrical life goes right back to the Old Vic Theatre and the Drama Department at the University in Bristol England.

In the early seventies through to the early eighties Mary could be found with the Hornsby Musical Society. In the early eighties she joined the Hornsby Gang Show. Since 1983 Mary has been involved in Stage management, construction, special effects, backstage hand props, lighting and is the best scrounger I have ever met.

At the recent Australian Jamboree in 2000/2001 Mary and I were part of the Australiana village, a working model of a pioneer model. We did two shows 9 days a week complete with mock floggings and the requisite escaped convict shot by redcoats.

I first came to know Mary with the Normanhurst Uniting Church Musical Society where she worked on lighting and Directing.

In 1991 she moved to the Willoughby Musical Society working as a meticulous properties manager, back stage continuity, cast calling, front of house.

Her legacy is a vast array of props, beautifully crafted, scrounged and saved from destruction - which now provide income for the Society and are loaned by amateur and professional theatres.

I thank God for people like Mary because it is through her efforts and people like her that I and other performers get to do the things we love.

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