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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rosebud is located 35 km southwest of Drumheller, about 110km northeast of Calgary, and 315km southeast of Edmonton. For more information about upcoming shows including times, and ticket prices please visit The Rosebud Theatre website.
Travel Alberta graciously provided my dinner buffet and show ticket, for which I am very grateful. All opinions are my own. This post also contains a bookable activity through Yonderbound. If you choose to book this activity I receive an affiliate fee at no extra charge for you so it is a win-win situation.
Have you been to Rosebud?