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. Just a short drive from Drumheller is the small hamlet of Rosebud, which has a professional theatre and theatre school (including a post-secondary theatre school). I went there to see a production The Wizard of Oz.

Book Your Stay in the Canadian Badlands Here.

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 palaeontology 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 new life because of a focus on the arts.

Rosebud Alberta postcard.

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 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 centred around the Mercantile and the theatre itself.

Love Theatre? Book Your 2 Day Educational Theatre Tour in Rosebud Here.

Rosebud Opera House in Rosebud, Alberta.

Outside 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 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 in Rosebud, Alberta.

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. 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.

Rosebud Theatre stage in Rosebud, Alberta.

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 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.

Intermission

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.

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.

PHOTO: Pretty flowers along the Rosebud River in Rosebud, Alberta.

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 You Should 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, and you won’t have a hard time finding the theatre once you get there. Information about upcoming shows at Rosebud can be found on The Rosebud Theatre website.
Rosebud isn’t the only place to see great theatre in the Alberta Badlands. If you are in Drumheller in July be sure to check out The Canadian Badlands Passion Play.
I partnered with Travel Alberta for this trip to the Canadian Badlands. They provide me with a complimentary dinner and ticket to the Rosebud Theatre and a stay at the locally run bed and breakfast the Heartwood Inn and Spa in Drumheller. Take Me to the World would like to thank Travel Alberta for their support. All opinions in this post are my own.

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

21 comments 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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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. 🙂

    • 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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