Life stories told on The Park Bench

Kessia Brenneis and Jim Soetaert sing What Would You Do? and Could We Start Again.


Kessia Brenneis and Jim Soetaert sing What Would You Do? and Could We Start Again.

May 14, 2012

ST. ALBERT - Sandra Brenneis, composer and playwright of Mary's Veil and Lost Apostle, is pleased to present her latest musical, The Park Bench.

Sandra describes The Park Bench as a lighter play that deals with serious issues; it is a play about people, who during difficult times can choose strength, hope, resilience and faith in others.

The idea of the play occurred several years ago when Sandra was volunteering during construction of West Country Hearth, a seniors' assisted living complex in Villeneuve.

While cleaning in Harmony Haven (the dementia unit in West Country Hearth) Sandra felt that although those with dementia may lose memories of times, places and people, on some level they still know the concept of being loved.

From this Sandra wrote, I'll Know You By Heart. This song is featured in this production and can be found on YouTube.

The money raised from The Park Bench will be contributed to West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation (WSAIP).

Dawn Goulet Soetaert is the treasurer of WSAIP. "Recently, we received a grant to build a second dementia unit with 12 more beds. This is a $2.2 million project of which half the funds must come from the foundation.

"Sandra and the choir have been our biggest fundraisers; over the last 10 years the musicals have raised over $360,000 for the West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation."

West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation was formed in 2001 with the goal of building a warm and welcoming home for seniors.

The home has now been open for five years and offers housing for independent seniors as well as those who need assistance. The demand is greatest for beds in the dementia unit.


Sandra's production is based on a bench in a park. The people who sing at the bench tell of their lives.

"I think everyone who sees the show will be able to relate to one or more of the relationships witnessed at the bench.

"One of my favourite scenes is when a young ma rried couple argue and eventually resolve their issues - portrayed by Kessia Brenneis and Jim Soetaert. They sing, What Would You Do? and Could We Start Again?"

More than 30 volunteers, including the musicians, are involved in the production.

Alice Goulet has played the cello for all of Sandra's musicals. "I love playing what Sandra has written. She challenges us as individuals and as a group to perform our very best. She often downplays her expertise, but she is a gifted composer. Her music is outstanding."


Raymond Soetaert directs The Park Bench. "I think audiences will really enjoy this show, it is so engaging and touches people of all ages. They will laugh and they will cry."

Sandra believes everyone has the ability to change the world, one act at a time.

"I believe that every act we do, whether big or small, creates change and I hope that through The Park Bench people will be touched to bring about a loving change in the world."

The Park Bench runs June 15 at 7:30 p.m., June 16 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., June 17 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the Arden Theatre (780-459-1542) or through Ticketmaster. For more information, go to