Mike Busswood (centre) with fellow 2016 Community Theatre Coalition award-winners (for Surrey Little Theatre’s The Last Lifeboat), director Dale Kelly (left) and actor Ben Odberg (right).

Region’s theatre community mourns leader

Actor/director/producer Mike Busswood remembered

He was a gentle giant of community theatre.

Always a large man physically, Mike Busswood, who passed away at his Langley home on Saturday at the age of 62, was also a huge talent – who often downplayed his considerable theatrical gifts with self-effacing humour and a keen sense of the more ridiculous aspects of the human condition.

His humour – of the driest kind – could also be directed at others. But whatever wry comment he expressed, in a measured, soft-spoken delivery that was uniquely his own, would be cushioned by a certain twinkle in his eye.

“Mike was someone you wanted to know,” actor Mahara Sinclaire noted in a Facebook comment.

Busswood had most recently been president of Surrey Little Theatre, but in a more than 60-play community theatre career had become a well-known and well-liked participant in shows with other local groups including the White Rock Players Club, the Langley Players and the Vagabond Players.

The six-foot-two actor – who had slimmed down his frame considerably in recent years – had a history of heart problems and had received two quadruple-bypass operations. He suffered a serious health crisis in November which had left him in a coma for several weeks until he rallied just before Christmas.

The retired Telus electrician is survived by his wife, well-known community theatre actor and stage-manager Cathe, and their daughters Samantha and Kaitlyn.

The family often worked in tandem on theatre projects – including one Christmas season which they spent together as chorus members for a Scott Wheeler-directed pantomime for White Rock Players Club.

He also appeared in a number of Vancouver-filmed Hollywood and independent productions over the years, including a memorable bit in the Kurt Russell/Kevin Costner film 3,000 Miles to Graceland.

In 2016, he was both an actor and producer for the Surrey Little Theatre production of the The Last Lifeboat, a drama about the sinking of the Titanic, which also featured Kaitlyn, and was the winner of best production at both the CTC awards and the Theatre BC Fraser Valley Zone festival.

Ben Odberg – Busswood’s longtime friend and theatrical collaborator – posted on Facebook that “I’m unable to describe what Mike meant to me and how his passing has affected me…” as a preface to sharing a series of songs that Busswood loved as a tribute.

“Music was such a huge part of his life,” he wrote.

Peace Arch News editor Lance Peverley, who directed the Busswood-produced Twelve Angry Men for Surrey Little Theatre last year and also directed Busswood in small film roles before that, noted the world not only lost a skilled thespian but a knowledgeable man who was equally at ease conversing with academics and working people.

“Mike was extremely well-read,” Peverley noted. “He would astound us with his trivia, his take on world events and, of course, his cutting humour. I will forever cherish our banter.”

On stage, Busswood’s gravitas and economy of action carried absolute conviction, no matter whether the play was serious drama, like Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, or wacky comedy like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – and he excelled on either side of the theatrical spectrum.

While his stature inevitably drew attention, his performances didn’t crave it. He always sought to strengthen a show in whatever role he had been cast, rather than indulge in theatrics for theatrics’ sake.

His overarching desire was always to make the play better, and he added a wealth of experience and assurance to whatever he tackled.

As a director – his most recent effort was the well-received thriller The Woman In Black presented by White Rock Players Club in October of last year – he brought a thoughtful, intelligent approach, rather than self-serving egotism, to each script.

Ironically, up until his heart attack, 2017 had been a signal year for Busswood. The Community Theatre Coalition, in which he had long been involved as an organizer and booster, recognized him with a lifetime achievement award.

At the same ceremony he received best director honours for Surrey Little Theatre’s The Dixie Swim Club, for which Cathe received the best supporting actress award.

This week, a post on Surrey Little Theatre’s website says simply “our beloved president, Mike Busswood passed away at home on the weekend. There will be a service toward the end of August and we will send a message out once details are confirmed.”

Just Posted

Homicide team investigating at Surrey apartment complex

Apartment building complex behind police tape after incident

Homelessness group puts pressure on White Rock council

Peninsula Homeless to Housing task force brought forward three action steps for council

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

Slam poetry creates catharsis for North Delta youth

Burnsview Secondary team gearing up for poetry festival and competition in April

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

A Mother’s Wish: Ryan Shtuka’s mother wants her son to be ‘forever known’

‍‍‍‍‍“Let me tell you a story …. it all began with a boy named Ryan”

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

Most Read

l -->