Amazing Small Town Theatre in Rosebud, Alberta

Amazing Small Town Theatre in Rosebud, Alberta

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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 theatre experience I’d have in this region of Alberta. A short drive from Drumheller is the hamlet of Rosebud, which has a professional theatre and theatre school (including a post-secondary theatre school). I went there to see a production of the classic musical 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 for many reasons. The Drumheller region is well known for its fossils and other paleontology discoveries, but the region during the early 1900s was well-known for its coal mining. Rosebud was a small hamlet, like many in 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 led 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 a new life because of a focus on the arts.

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. This 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 took about 25 minutes from Drumheller. The layered rock landscape of the Badlands giving way to more prairie, like the landscape I’m used to seeing. Coming into Rosebud I was greeted with some Bed & Breakfasts, but the main area is centered around the Mercantile and the theatre itself.

Outside the Rosebud Opera House

The Mercantile

The Mercantile is where the Rosebud General Store used to be. Now instead of an abandoned building, it’s 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 favourite thing was the watermelon and feta cheese salad. I usually 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. I saw this show on my birthday, so extra desserts are warranted.

Pre-Show Entertainment

While patrons are having dinner, the students from the Rosebud Centre of the Arts are providing entertainment. Three girls were 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 called 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 theatre or any type of 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.

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 famous movie with Judy Garland, this version of the musical is pretty similar, except there are a few extra songs not in the film. The cast isn’t huge, but everyone was fantastic. I loved the staging, it was creative and straightforward 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.

The view of the sunset along the Rosebud River in Rosebud, Alberta. This view definitely beats the view you’d have waiting in line for the bathrooms at most theatres.
Here are some pretty flowers along the Rosebud River.

Final Thoughts

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

Things To Know
Rosebud Opera House is located at 102 Railway Avenue in Rosebud, Alberta. Rosebud is 35 km southwest of Drumheller. The nearest major city is Calgary, which is 110km away. The town (hamlet) is tiny, so you won’t have a hard time finding the theatre. Information about upcoming shows at Rosebud can be found on The Rosebud Theatre website.
I partnered with Travel Alberta for this trip to the Canadian Badlands. I was provided with a complimentary stay at the locally run bed and breakfast the Heartwood Inn and Spa and a ticket for this show at the Rosebud Opera House. I would like to thank Travel Alberta for their support.  All opinions in this post are my own. If you’re looking to stay in the area you can book your hotel here.

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

21 thoughts on “Amazing Small Town Theatre in Rosebud, Alberta”

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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. 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 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. 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. 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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