By Cynthia Hinson
Retiring professor Marion Bentley will culminate his 31-year teaching and directing career at Brigham Young University with his production of “Crazy for You.”
A native of St. George, Utah, Bentley attended the University of Utah for his undergraduate and doctorate studies and received his Master”s from Harvard University.
To continue his education, Bentley traveled to London to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts where he wrote his dissertation on the British System of Actor Training.
Bentley worked in both the professional and educational world of theater, but he said he found comfort in the more relaxed environment of education.
“I found a lot greater freedom in the educational world to be able to direct anything you want where as in the commercial theater you are really stuck with what people are going to buy,” Bentley said. “I”ve had an opportunity to direct an array of things that I would have a difficult time getting a chance to do in the professional world.”
Bentley said along with the greater ease to direct in his own way, he really liked to work with students who were easily malleable and eager to learn.
After three years teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Bentley moved his family back to Utah and took a job in the Honor”s Program at BYU.
It wasn”t long before he was asked to do some directing and then eventually ended up working entirely in the Theater and Media Arts Department.
“I really like the program here” Bentley said. “I think it”s an exciting program. And the students here are wonderful, they”re very talented.”
BYU has remarkable placement for students in the professional field, particularly the music theater people, Bentley said.
“It”s exciting to be in a program where there are those kind of connections,” Bentley said. “You have a chance to train people who are really going to go out and do what they”ve been trained to do.”
“Crazy for You” cast member, Wyatt Darling, said he values his training from Dr. Bentley.
“I feel like this has made part of my BYU experience more complete working with someone with so much knowledge and so much experience,” Darling said. “It”s so important to work with someone who can influence you in such an important way and not only someone who”s talented, but someone that”s a good example in the gospel and family life.”
Fellow cast member, Sarah Pfeifer, praised the personal side of Dr. Bentley, and his way of continually showing his students that he really cared about them.
“He”s really sweet and encouraging,” Pfeifer said. ” He gives a lot of positive feedback and makes everyone feel important.”
Aside from directing and teaching a range of theater and honor”s program classes, Bentley has also worked with the BYU Travel Abroad program leading successful and memorable tours all over the world.
“I do a lot of traveling,” Bentley said. “I”ve taken groups all around the world.”
Retirement is not stopping Bentley from continuing to travel.
“This summer we”ll be going from Rome to Spain and then to the British Isles and then in the fall we”ll be going to South America,” Bentley said.
In addition to his travels he has been asked to direct the Summer Theater at the Tuacahn in Ivan, Utah.
Bentley said when asked by his wife what he”s going to do now, he responds, “Retire!”
“But I hope to continue directing, I really love it and would hate to give it up,” Bentley said.