ROSEBUD – If you’ve never been to Rosebud, you are missing out. Guys, if you want to make up some brownie points, Rosebud is the place to do it. Not quite an hour’s drive east from Chestermere lays a small hamlet where only about 100 people live and work. It is a gem and rather than me copy and pasting some of the media information I was given, I think it would be best to hear it first hand from someone who’s been there. You know how it goes, I tell two friends and then they tell two friends and so on..
I will start with the little hamlet that captured my attention immediately. Just before you enter the main centre is a small RV campground, you’ll round the curve and approach a 4 way stop. This is it; this is where most if not all of the action takes place. Off to your left are numerous gift shops, a museum and a hotel which incorporates a theatre and school of the Arts; to the right, the Rosebud Country Inn which overlooks the small valley, Community Hall and a new Firehall. Straight ahead you will see a large building called the Mercantile and the Rosebud Opera House.
Gail and I arrived a little early so we took a little tour of the gift shops and museum then went to pick up our tickets from the box office for the play. Unknown to us, Rosebud has 2 stages where plays are performed. The play we were scheduled to see was “My Name is Asher Lev” by Aaron Posner and this play is based on the well-known novel by Chaim Potok. The play follows a young Hasidic Jew who has an incredible gift for drawing. Unfortunately, his conservative parents consider his creative gift to be “foolishness” and they do everything in their power to get him to stop. Yet his passion to draw and paint is too strong, and he is forced to find a way among everything that is important to him: his faith, his art, his parents, his calling and his God. Well we thought we had plenty of time to get to the Studio Stage but in the end, if the play has begun, there is no way of getting in, so off we go back to the Mercantile to say we love your town but we missed the play and we’ll probably be heading home to feed the dogs. Well much to our surprise the lady at the box office got in touch with Mark Lewandowski, (the Production Manager who just happens to be wearing many hats these days), who said “we do have another play starting at 8:00 PM called “Anne of Green Gables”. This is where I have cut and pasted the words from promotional literature.
Anne of Green Gables, the musical, tells the story of the orphan Anne Shirley and how she changes the lives of the community of Avonlea. Among the lives changed by her are Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, the elderly brother and sister who adopt her even though they “clearly requested a boy” from the orphanage. The musical was adapted by Donald Harron, who best known his creation of the iconic Canadian comedic character Charlie Farquharson. (His version of Anne of Green Gables is the one performed at the Charlottetown Festival annually.) With music by Norman Campbell, from the Novel by L.M. Montgomery. (Lyrics by Donald Harron and Norman Campbell, and additional lyrics by Mavor Moore and Elaine Campbell). Anne of Green Gables runs May 25-August 25.
But hey, did you think that was the end of our experience in Rosebud, no way. There is so much more to tell you and I can’t emphasis enough the terrific feeling we got from being in Rosebud. We had the option of having dinner before the performance began and this was welcomed as the hunger pangs began to arrive. We were seated at a small table in a pleasing dining area with many others. The atmosphere was comfortable and the place was clean and well kept. The aroma of the food and the patron chatter adds to the mood. Awaiting us was a scrumptious salad bar, a huge variety from a buffet and the favourite – dessert bar. Just as our beverages arrived a couple began to sing a soft melody for our entertainment. They performed a couple songs then moved into another area of the dining room. The 2 performers were from Rosebud. Chelsea Murphy grew up in Rosebud and is now a student at the Rosebud School of the Arts. Her singing partner is Kjel Erickson. Kjel who also is from Rosebud owns a shop just down the street where he builds guitars. The meal, the service and the exemplary staff was just the start of a great experience for us. We finished dinner and head across the street to the Rosebud Opera House.
Now I’m not much of a live play enthusiast so this is where I will ask my sweetheart to describe the play “Anne of Green Gables”. Oh, but before Gail does that, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the play; the music lyrics and performers lines were often very humorous to say the least. Take it away Gail. “I too thought this play was terrific. There’s no doubt the characters in the play captured my heart”. “From the costumes, to the music, choreography and the story, this play kept me entertained for the entire evening”. “There was plenty of laughter from the audience” as many scenes caught your attention, and “just when you think a predictable joke is about to happen, something unexpected pops out of their mouth”. “I had a magnificent time and I think everyone would enjoy seeing this play”.
Rosebud, in its 28th season, and as one of Alberta’s premiere theatre companies, has gained an international reputation as an excellent Canadian destination for high quality live theatre. Check it out, you won’t regret it – and guys, don’t forget the Brownie points. The Rosebud experience was worth the trip. Not only was the play Anne of Green Gables delightful; the entertainment during dinner left us wanting more.