Amazing Small Town Theater in Rosebud Alberta

I previously wrote about my experience of going to Drumheller to see the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Surprisingly my time at the Passion Play wasn’t the only theater experience I’d have in this region of Alberta. Just a short drive from Drumheller is the small hamlet of Rosebud, which has a professional theater and theater school (including a post-secondary theatre school). I went there to see a production The Wizard of Oz.

The History of Rosebud & The Rosebud Centre of The Arts

Rosebud has been on my Alberta bucket list for a while and for many reasons. The Drumheller region is well known for its fossils and other palaeontology discoveries, but the region during the early 1900s was well-known for its coal mining. Rosebud was a small hamlet, like many in the this area, whose economy was greatly influenced by the coal industry. Eventually the coal boom in this area died down, and the population of the community dwindled down, practically to nothing.

Alberta has several ghost towns, communities that were once populated and then dispersed to nothing. This could have been Rosebud’s fate too, but in the 1970s a group of young adults from Calgary used the old Mercantile building in Rosebud as a location for a youth summer camp. Eventually this camp lead to the creation of the Rosebud Centre of the Arts. This is a performing arts school where students are trained by and with professional performing artists. I love how this small community was able to have new life because of a focus on the arts.

Postcard of Rosebud, Alberta

A postcard I saw at the Rosebud Gifts & Crafts. This shows the spirit of this unique town.

Getting to Rosebud

Rosebud puts on several different performances throughout the year. During the summer they put on the musical The Wizard of Oz. As I was going to be in the area anyway I wanted to check out this show at The Rosebud Centre of the Arts. The drive to Rosebud was about 35km southwest of Drumheller. The layered rock landscape of the Badlands giving way to more prairie-like landscape I’m used to seeing. Coming into Rosebud I was greeted with a some Bed & Breakfasts, but the main area is centered around the Mercantile and the theater itself.

Rosebud Opera House in Rosebud, Alberta, Canada

The Rosebud Opera House.

The Mercantile

The Mercantile is where the Rosebud General Store used to be. Now instead of an abandoned building its been renovated into a dining hall, restaurant, gift store, and conference space. My ticket for The Wizard of Oz included dinner at The Rosebud Theatre’s Mercantile Dining Room. When I arrived I went to the front counter to pick up my ticket and get a seat for dinner. My table wasn’t ready, but I was told I could wander through the Mercantile (including in the gift store) while I waited.

Once my table was ready I went inside The Dining Room for the buffet dinner, which was really good. I think my favorite thing was the watermelon and feta cheese salad. I normally hate watermelon, but this was delicious. The dinner includes complimentary coffee and tea. Since it was my birthday I splurged on a glass of white wine.

Desserts, including a fruit turnover, lemon meringue pie, and Saskatoon pie.

Desserts, including a fruit turnover, lemon meringue pie, and Saskatoon pie. I saw this show on my birthday so extra desserts are warranted.

Pre Show Entertainment

While patrons are having dinner students from the Rosebud Centre of the Arts are providing entertainment. There were three girls singing and playing the violin, and they were fantastic. During the meal we were also told that there would be a screening of a student film upstairs in the conference room, which I decided to check out. The film was a scene from another show at Rosebud Last Train to Nibroc that two groups of students had filmed and edited. I hadn’t seen this show, but the short films were entertaining and it was clear the students were excited and passionate about their work. I love when kids and young people (god I sound old) get involved with theater or any arts and culture.

The Show

After dinner and the film screening it was time to walk (about 30 seconds across the street) to the Rosebud Opera House. This is where Rosebud Centre of The Arts holds their performances. Inside there are about 230 seats. The building itself used to be a grain annex.

Theater in Rosebud Alberta - The Rosebud Opera House Stage

The stage at The Rosebud Opera House. I took this photo before the show started, because obviously photography or any recording is not allowed during the show.

The show was great. I think most people are probably familiar with The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and her dog Toto from Kansas get swept up in a tornado to the magical and strange land of Oz. If you’ve seen the very well-known movie version with Judy Garland the live musical is pretty similar, except I believe there are few added songs. The cast isn’t huge, but everyone was fantastic. I loved the staging, it was simple and creative in its use.


Normally the intermission of a show is where people line up to use the bathroom, get a snack or a drink, and yes you can do that here as well. Since Rosebud is such a small town I decided to get out and take a little walk during intermission. I was surprised to see there was a little cafe, an art gallery, a museum, several homes, as well as a beautiful view of the Rosebud River. Taking a walk during the intermission I could see that there is more to do in Rosebud than just see a show. Next time I go to Rosebud I’ll give myself a few hours beforehand to check out some of the other attractions in town.

Rosebud River in Rosebud, Alberta, Canada.

Sunset along the Rosebud River in Rosebud, Alberta. This view definitely beats the view you’d have waiting in line for the bathrooms.

Flowers in Rosebud, Alberta, Canada.

Pretty flowers along the river.

Final Thoughts

I loved my short visit in Rosebud. The idea of this town going from practically nothing to a little vibrant theatre and arts community is wonderful. For anyone who loves theater and culture Rosebud is well worth a visit.

Things You Should Know

Rosebud Theatre  is located at 102 Railway Avenue in Rosebud, Alberta. Rosebud is 35 km southwest of Drumheller, 110km northeast of Calgary, and 315km southeast of Edmonton. While there are some tours that go to Rosebud the best option is to drive there yourself. The town (hamlet) is very small and you won’t have a hard time finding the theatre once you get there.
For more information about upcoming shows at Rosebud including times, and ticket prices please visit The Rosebud Theatre website. If you really love theatre you can a 2 day educational theatre tour in Rosebud.
Travel Alberta graciously provided my dinner buffet at the Mercantile and show ticket at the Rosebud Theatre. I am very grateful for their support. All opinions in this post are my own.
This isn’t the only place to see great theatre in the Albertan Badlands. If you are in Drumheller in July then check out The Canadian Badlands Passion Play.  You can read about my experience with that show here.
While I was in Drumheller I stayed at the Heartwood Inn and Spa. This locally run bed and breakfast offers a comfortable luxury stay in Drumheller. While there are spa treatments available here I wasn’t able to make us of any (unfortunately). I can vouch for the delicious waffle breakfast and the owners were lovely. I was provided a complimentary stay with in collaboration with Travel Alberta. All opinions are my own.

Have you been to Rosebud? Would you see a show at the Rosebud Theatre?

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Have you been to Rosebud?


21 Responses to Amazing Small Town Theater in Rosebud Alberta

  1. Vlad September 20, 2015 at 1:36 AM #

    Sounds like an interesting town, I’d love to go to a live musical of the Wizard of Oz, I bet it was a great show 😀

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:24 PM #

      Rosebud was great. And the Wizard of Oz is such a fun musical – definitely recommend seeing it if you get a chance.

  2. Dean September 20, 2015 at 5:31 AM #

    Going to a show in a small town is something I have never considered before. But your experience in Rosebud sounds like a really interesting way to spend an evening. Thanks.

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:27 PM #

      Small towns can be pretty underrated, but they can have some amazing treasures if you know where to look.

  3. Kinga September 20, 2015 at 7:04 AM #

    You took beautiful photos! I imagine going to watch a play in such location must be a really nice experience.

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:28 PM #

      Seeing a play here certainly had much nicer views than the theatres I’m usually at. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Meg Jerrard September 20, 2015 at 7:05 AM #

    I’m a huge musical theatre fan, so it sounds like you had a great visit! And amazing tip on the intermission walk – looks like it was the perfect time to take in a beautiful sunset too – Rosebud River looks gorgeous at that time of night!

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:29 PM #

      The show was fantastic, but that view was highly worth the ticket price imo.

  5. Anda September 20, 2015 at 11:56 AM #

    Rosebud reminded me of a little town in Dead Valley, California, called Amargosa. The same kind of cute town with a couple of restaurants and a small hotel, but with an unforgettable Opera House exactly like the one you describe in your post. It’s amazing to see how people can turn a small, insignificant village into something really attractive.

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:33 PM #

      Love hearing about small towns that have given themselves new life. I’ve never heard of Amargosa before (honestly Death Valley would be the last place I’d imagine theatre), but now that I know about this town I definitely want to check it out at some point. Thank for the comment.

  6. Zach September 21, 2015 at 2:03 PM #

    We have a post secondary theatre school here as well

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:35 PM #

      Hi Zach. Thanks for the comment. I’ve edited the post to include this information.

  7. Sheila September 22, 2015 at 11:24 PM #

    Great article. I saw the play too and it was very well done. Those are not Alberta wild roses in your picture though! Look more like hollyhocks to me.

  8. Sheila September 22, 2015 at 11:24 PM #

    Great article. I saw the play too and it was very well done. Those are not Alberta wild roses in your picture though! Look more like hollyhocks to me.

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:36 PM #

      Hi Sheila. Thanks for the comment. I thought those flowers were wildroses, but I’m definitely not a botanist. Thanks for the correction. I’ll be updating the post with this information. And I’m glad you got to see and enjoy the show too.

  9. Helen September 23, 2015 at 6:15 PM #

    Small town Canada is so underrated, isn’t it? What a great way to highlight local talent.

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:37 PM #

      Definitely underrated. There are a lot more great, small towns I want to check out in Canada and around the world. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Doreen Pendgracs September 23, 2015 at 8:38 PM #

    I love these little small-town theatres. We’ve been to quite a few, but have not yet been to the Rosebud. I’d sure like to go!

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:38 PM #

      Hi Doreen. Rosebud is a great town, if you’re ever in the area you should definitely check it out. They have shows year round too.

  11. Miranda September 25, 2015 at 11:00 PM #

    I went to Rosebud in the dead of winter about a decade ago so it was a bit quiet then. But, like you, we explored a bit. It’s in the sweetest little location and the whole feel of the town is small, homey and historic. Thanks for this post – I thought they only did the Passions play, now I know that they show more. 🙂

    • Alouise October 14, 2015 at 8:40 PM #

      Yes, homey and historic – that’s a great way to describe Rosebud. Seeing a show here in the winter sounds like it would be a great experience as well. Thanks for the comment.

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