Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 28, 2002
'Mary's Cry' heard by composer
Parish prepares for dramatic portrayal of Mary's life
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Sandra Brenneis never thought the one song she wrote about Mary, entitled Mary's Cry, would be the foundation for a musical about the Blessed Virgin's life.
Brenneis later called Mary's Cry the seed of the musical Mary's Veil, which St. Peter the Apostle's Parish choir will stage at Arden Theatre in St. Albert, March 3.
Brenneis, 37, initially entertained no grand aspiration of composing a musical and having it staged.
But her musical experience of 10 years of playing organ and piano for her church grew to the point Brenneis began seriously composing songs last summer. The pastor, Father Paul Terrio heard Brenneis and other musicians rehearsing a wedding anniversary song she composed for her sister and brother-in-law and later told her, "You should write a musical."
"Sometimes the seed of an idea sticks and you cannot shake it no matter what," Brenneis said.
The music for the drama started coming to her and, in November, the group started rehearsing.
In the drama, four women will portray Mary in four different phases of her life including, nativity of Jesus, public ministry of Jesus, crucifixion and her assumption.
The symbolic passing on of Mary's veil to another actor, who will portray Mary in the next phase, will signify these phases.
Mary's Veil, which features 20 songs, is about Mary's ministry in relation to the ministry of Jesus.
The whole point of the play reminds people that God, Jesus and Mary are within us, we are called to live a ministry and it's about choosing to do it or ignoring it, Brenneis said.
"It's a lot of work, but it's something I've always been excited to do," said the composer.
Leading a busy life as a practicing psychologist and a mother of four, Brenneis crafted the songs during her leisure.
"Music has always been a big part of my life and of course this place where I was born and raised."
All the people involved in the musical are from Villeneuve. They thought of conducting an open audition, but decided against it because of time constraints and they have resources within their parish.
Although the group is not a professional theatre company, everyone in the production is dedicated to what they are doing, Brenneis said.
Her husband Ryan has been supportive of this project as well as her own brothers and sisters, three of whom will play the role of Mary in different phases.
Colleen Soetaert, 45, will play Mary in the later part of Jesus' life. "It's about a mother losing her child," said Colleen. "It's very emotional and powerful (although) the pain that Mary went through is one side that we don't often look at."
She felt honoured to take up the role of Mary. Being a mother and a Marian devotee helped Colleen prepare for the role.
Dedication, tenacity and sense of commitment are the characteristics that Rene Soetaert, 57, admire about Joseph, a role he is playing.
"When he decided what he had to do, he stuck with it right to the end," Rene said.
Preparing for the opening night has been a good experience for the cast and musicians. They rehearse on Sundays after Mass at the community hall.
"I thought once you get to your older years you wouldn't have to worry about doing this," said Rene, who was involved in plays when he was in high school.
A cast of 30 people, including Trisha Soetaert and Moira St. Amand, Brenneis' two other sisters, who also play the role of Mary, and five musicians are all looking forward to the performance.
Proceeds from the play will go to West Sturgeon Assisted Living Facility.
Tickets can be purchased from Simonne at 458-0908.