Rugby Theatre stalwart Mike Hill dies after short illness

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The end of 2013 has brought further sadness for Rugby Theatre Society with the death of Mike Hill, head of lighting, who died on Boxing Day after a brief illness.

Mike had been a member of Rugby Theatre’s society for almost 40 years and was involved in many areas of the theatre including health & safety, electrical

maintenance and film projection, but his real passion and talent was for lighting shows.

Simon Burne, Chair of Rugby Theatre Trustees puts into words the loss felt by everyone at the theatre: “Saying that he was a true gentleman is an overworked phrase, but in Mike’s case it was very true. He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him. The lighting will carry on here at the same high standards because of the folk he helped to train. But a powerful light has gone out nonetheless.”

Mike initially became involved with theatre at grammar school where lacking proper spotlights he improvised the lighting of school productions using biscuit tins and equipment from the physics lab. Inevitably Mike went on to study electrical engineering at Manchester University and whilst studying regularly escaped from the machine labs to light productions for the Students Union Drama Society, even entering competitive drama festivals and reaching the national finals of The Sunday Times/NUS Festival.

After graduating Mike started work at English Electric in Stafford and joined the local dramatic societies. Mike worked abroad for 7 years and on his return to the UK in 1974 he was moved to Rugby. It was shortly after this in 1975 that he lit his first show at Rugby Theatre ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ and the rest is history.

Mike had been retired for a number of years allowing him to spend endless hours on his hobby at Rugby Theatre. A statement from the theatre added: “There was hardly a night when he would not be seen at the theatre sorting something or helping someone out. In his professional life he achieved Chartered Engineer status, a prestigious qualification and one that confirmed Mike as top of his profession. Despite this Mike wasn’t a show-man, in fact he avoided the limelight if he could, but he created plenty of limelight for others.

“He quietly and patiently delivered amazing lighting for show after show, but his favourite was musical theatre. He also enjoyed working with outside groups and working with CATS dance school gave him a blank canvas to match the lighting to themovement of the dancers, the colours of the costumes and musical themes.“It seems fitting that his last show was the CATS extravaganza in early December.”