by Stephen Dafoe
A cast and crew of 44 will bring the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the Arden Theatre stage for four performances running Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. The production is a fundraiser for the West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation’s dementia unit.
The two-act musical by composer and playwright Sandra Brenneis demonstrates the depth, courage and strength of what the playwright sees as a powerful and faithful woman.
The first act begins with Mary’s parents longing for a child late in life, follows Mary’s life as a young woman, and ends with the death of her husband, Joseph. The second act looks at Mary’s life during the time when Jesus enters His ministry and progresses through Jesus’ crucifixion.
Brenneis said she based Mary’s Veil on Apocryphal writings and theological interpretations of those accounts.
Beyond what the playwright sees as a “beautiful and powerful story,” the motivation behind the musical is the same as it was 13 years ago when Brenneis first put pen to paper.
“Mary’s Veil and the people who bring it to life, bring me more than I could give,” she said. “I love the sound and sight of one of my plays coming to life.” The playwright said the group of people who gather to volunteer their time for an important cause continue to inspire her. “It would be impossible to immerse myself in Mary’s beautiful and powerful story without recognizing the strength that comes from living a life of acceptance and service like she did.”
A cast and crew of 44 bring Mary’s story to life. Brenneis said many of the cast were with her from the beginning, experienced and skilled people she has come to rely upon to make things happen. “Our children have grown up on the stage and are now holding lead roles,” she said. “I am filled with pride and awe when they sing and perform.”
Some of Brenneis’ longstanding cast have stepped back this season, but new cast members are giving the production a different vibe. “Our many new members bring a fresh energy and enthusiasm that helps to rekindle the passion when the rehearsal season feels long,” she said. “Every member of our cast, crew and team work hard, often laugh and create something important together.”
Colleen Soetaert is one of the three women playing the titular character in the musical. Like Brenneis, she sees the production as an important one. “I think it shows the strength and faith of a woman who is asked to serve the Lord,” Soetaert said. “She watches her son go through His ministry in answer to that, and I think every parent can relate to watching and guiding. We know there are times when we can’t control what’s going on, and you give it to God. We surrender to God.”
Beyond the touching nd poignant moments Soetaert sees in the play, she believes there are many purely entertaining ones as well.
Mary’s Veil plays the Arden Theatre in St. Albert Jan, 30 at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 31 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 1 at 2:30 p.m. All seats are $25 and are available through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-5000 or by calling the Arden Theatre at 780-459-1542.