Guest post by Nancy Cherniwchan
Bah Humbug. Like everyone else, I’ve been feeling out of sorts, isolated and apprehensive. So much of what we used to take for granted is now altered, canceled, restricted or deemed unsafe. But Rosebud Theatre, I learned was going ahead with their annual holiday production.
When I heard that after seven months of being closed (due to Covid-19) this theatre was re-opening with A Christmas Carol, my heart longed to attend. My rational self, however, was hesitant with the implications of being in an indoor public space.
I read that the theatre and dining room would be modified to accommodate only 62 people instead of their usual 230 people. This gave me comfort knowing they were taking precautions to keep me safe if I attended.
Road tripping to Rosebud
So, on a cool Friday night, I found a Covid-friendly pair of dressy stretch pants, put on mascara for the first time in months and found the prettiest mask I owned. My husband and I jumped in the car, thankful to be released from the confines of our home and office.
Leaving the city, the open fields were settled against an awesome Alberta sunset with slivers of blue, yellow and orange offering a sense of normalcy and comfort. I felt some of my apprehension dissipate as we drove into the calm darkness and into the quaint town of Rosebud, just an hour and 15 minutes east of Calgary.
We made our way to the center of town, where a picturesque building festooned with white lights began to pull us into the Christmas spirit. Warm wreaths hung in the windows and an inviting doorway led us into an open space of welcoming smiles behind masks and plexiglass.
Rosebud Theatre dining
Previously, the Rosebud dining room offered a massive buffet. Due to Covid-19, however, they now offer a 4-course dinner. One of my favourite meals in the world is turkey dinner with all the trimmings. In fact, when my husband proposed, he did so over a turkey dinner knowing it led to the key to my heart. So although I’m not a food connoisseur, I am an expert when it comes to turkey dinners.
Rosebud seriously knocked it out of the park; the turkey dinner was amazing! We enjoyed a beautiful butternut squash soup, fresh salad with candied walnuts and the option to indulge in two desserts to wrap up an incredible meal. We agreed the sticky toffee pudding was a truly heavenly experience! I’m so glad I wore my stretchy pants!
A safe feeling of comfort and joy
As we made our way to the theatre, we stopped by the gift shop which was resplendently decked out for Christmas. This cheerful little shop offered beautiful Christmas decorations, unique gifts, plus festive treats and trinkets. I treated myself to a new latte cup to enjoy my coffee during upcoming snowy mornings and surprisingly, bought my first Christmas gift…in November!
We crossed the deserted street to the theatre. With such a small audience, it felt like we had this town and theatre to ourselves. We were greeted by masked ushers who guided us to our seats. Every second row was closed off with clear markings to ensure patrons and their cohorts sat six feet apart.
Aisles were clearly marked, restricting the flow of people to one direction when entering and leaving the theatre, and we were encouraged to not mingle in the lobby. Much thought and consideration had been given in support of keeping us all safe.
A Christmas Carol at Rosebud Theatre
Morris Ertman, Director and Artistic Director of A Christmas Carol opened the play with a few words. This introduction was unique as Morris Ertman stood in front of this friendly audience and genuinely thanked the community of artists, the Pacific Theatre, patrons, staff, their COVID team and the Board of Governors for pulling together to raise the curtain to live theatre during a pandemic. Everyone in the theatre could appreciate the lengths it took to assemble this production and I, for one, felt honoured to be a part of it.
Most people know Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol, and know of the characters such as Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the ghosts. But in these unprecedented times, the play had been adapted by Ron Reed into a one-man show. Admittedly, I was somewhat skeptical when I heard that one person was going to be on stage for 90 minutes all alone.
The lights dimmed and a single candle was lit on stage. From that moment, I was captivated as actor Nathan Schmidt vividly told the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who was visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.
I found myself enthralled by this talented actor as he led us from person to spirit, from past to future, from sadness to hopefulness. The ingenious artists that brought this story to life through narration, music, lighting and set design created a show that felt like there was a cast of 20.
After visiting Rosebud and being captivated by the town, its people and this rendition of A Christmas Carol, I felt transformed. I feel more grounded, hopeful and optimistic about Christmas 2020. Like Scrooge, I feel a renewed energy to embrace family, friends and people who may be feeling lonely and distanced this holiday season.
And like the Rosebud Theatre community, I’m inspired to continue to pursue my passions within this new normal and in the end, hopefully create something more incredible than I could imagine just as they did in staging this play. Have a Scrooge-like Christmas!
Tickets for A Christmas Carol
For a spectacular day in the country and outstanding dinner theatre, A Christmas Carol is playing until December 23, 2020. Rosebud Theatre tickets are $85 for adults, $63 for youth and include a delicious 4-course dinner before the show.
Rosebud is located on Highway 840, approximately 100 km northeast of Calgary and 35 km southwest of Drumheller. Check their website here for tickets, show times, directions and upcoming shows.
For those who are unable to attend the production, Rosebud has recorded the show and is offering it online on their website from November 13 – December 31, filmed by Joel Goundry, Eric Pauls and Michael Janke.