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Tampa Bay Theaters and Performing Arts Centers

Updated on January 5, 2015

Tampa Bay Theaters and Performance Arts Centers

The Tampa Bay area is a vibrant theater arts community and is known as a "Top Arts Destination." We enjoy everything from operas in the world-class performance centers to classic film noir in the historic Tampa Theater.

I recently wrote about the Tampa Bay Metro Area and touched on a few of the theaters, but I would like to "take" you inside some of my favorites. I will include additional links at the close of this article.

Explore the Arts in Tampa Bay

on with the show
on with the show

David A. Straz, Jr. Center

Tampa is honored to have one of the largest performing arts centers in America.  The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center changed names in 2009 to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center or Straz Center.  It is located in the downtown area along the Hillsborough River and has a grand promenade into the theater.  The shows range from Broadway productions such as Dreamgirls and Irving Berlin's White Christmas to extravagant operas including The Merry Widow and Verdi's La Traviata. 

One of my most memorable nights was the Broadway production of The Lion King.  It was a birthday present from my sons and it was truly a night which we all hold as a treasured keepsake.  Thankfully the theater goers still dress their best for a production and I'll never forget seeing one of my 4 year old students with her mother and grandmother.  She was dressed in a beautiful black and white dress with her white gloves and black shiny shoes.  Her hair was in waves and she carried a small clutch.  (We talked about seeing each other numerous times at school!)  It is a AAA experience and will likely be one of your unforgettable experiences while in Tampa.

Inside The Tampa Theater

It's like being inside a fantasy world.
It's like being inside a fantasy world.

The Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre is also downtown and is listed as one of the Top Ten Iconic Show Places.  The first time I stepped up to the ticket office, I knew I was in for a special experience and I was not disappointed!  It is listed in Life Magazine as "one of America's 21 wonders."  It features concerts, live performances, art and classic films.  The architecture itself is worth a trip to observe and tours are given at scheduled times monthly.

It was built in 1926 with a Florida Mediterranean design.  Once inside the theater, one is transported to a different time and place.  It looks and feels like a Mediterranean courtyard with a night-blue ceiling and twinkling stars surrounded by European statuary and romantic gardens. 

The shows range from Cairo Time and Women Without Men to special events such as The Phantom of The Opera History and Haunts Tour.   It also includes special membership programs and one can sign up to be a Tampa Theatre Gargoyle Volunteer.  This is another theater you don't want to miss.

Channelside Cinemas 10

Channelside Cinemas 10 sits in the popular Channelside District along the river. It is home to the latest Sony Digital Cinema 4K playing the newest 3D and 4K releases. The complex has 2 IMAX screens. Food and beverages including wine and beer can be purchased and enjoyed during the movie.

Outside the theaters are numerous restaurants, bistros and clubs set around an open courtyard where live music and entertainment is often taking place. I've seen many movies there and always enjoy the quality and WOW factor of the latest technology and the lively fun atmosphere.

Tampa Map

David A. Stratz, Jr. Center:
1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place Tampa, Florida

get directions

The Tampa Theatre:
Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602-4435, USA

get directions

Channelside Cinemas 10 615 Channelside Dr. Tampa Florida:
615 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602, USA

get directions

Luxurious Interior of Mahaffey Theater

It is a true theater experience!
It is a true theater experience!

Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater

Across the Bay is the Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg.  It is a spectaular cultural center with waterfront views and beautiful European box seating.  The center hosts special events, Broadway shows, rock, pop, country and classical concerts.  It is also home to the Florida Orchestra with their Masterworks, Pop Series and Coffee Concerts.  The Florida Orchestra is one of the cultural benefits of living in the Tampa Bay area.

The shows range from Cirque Shanghai; BAI XI to Lyle Lovett.  They also have the Mahaffey Gourmet dining program in which you can present your same day ticket to a participating downtown restaurant for a special discount.  Trolleys can be taken to get around the city.

St. Petersburg Opera at The Palladium Theatre

Verdi's La Triviata
Verdi's La Triviata

The Palladium

The Palladium is another smaller treasure in downtown St. Petersburg. It is part of St. Petersburg College and contributes culturally with various styles presented to a diverse audience. A sampling of their shows ranges from Celtic Folk, An Evening with Solas to Bellydance Superstars Present: Bombay Bellywood. I saw Verdi's La Traviata here and it was helpful to have the overhead translation. It is a lovely theatre.

Dali Museum- Sharing Salvador- The Morse Legacy

Marley Room and Salvadore Dali

There are numerous other theaters and venues in which to enjoy shows such as the Sunday afternoon concerts in the Marley Room inside the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St. Petersburg. One can see anything from concert pianists to traditional Indian dances.

The Dali Museum also hold special film series including the Dali Dimension and the popular Breakfast with Dali programs held on Saturdays designed especially for children aged 5-12. The newly designed museum is much larger, and is home to the largest collection of Dali painting in the United States. It is truly a magnificent experience!

Ruth Eckerd Hall

I will close with mentioning Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. This also is one of my favorite venues because of the great acoustics inside the theater. It is a very popular destination and hosts so many different kinds of shows. It has also been nominated as one of the top five concert halls in America. The shows are broad and diverse, ranging from Joe Santrani to the Broadway shows, Young Frankenstein and Spring Awakening. It includes an atrium lounge and a notable arts educational center. The Florida Orchestra also performs here as well as The Straz Center in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay area is alive and richly rewarded with these theaters and performing arts centers and these are all must visit destinations with any trip to the Tampa Bay area.

Inside Ruth Eckerd Hall

The acoustics are amazing.
The acoustics are amazing.

St. Petersburg Map

Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater 400 First Street South Street St. Petersburg, F:
St Petersburg, FL 33701, USA

get directions

The Palladium 205 5th Avenue North St. Petersburg, Florida 33701:
205 5th Ave N, St Petersburg, FL 33701, USA

get directions

Marley Room of Museum of Fine Arts 205 5th Avenue North St. Petersburg, Florida 33701:
St Petersburg, FL 33701, USA

get directions

The Dali Museum One Dali Boulevard, St. Petersburg, Fl 333701:

get directions

More Tampa Bay Theaters

MOSI IMAX Dome - inside the Museum of Science and Technology, Tampa, Florida. The only IMAX dome in the Southeast.

Tampa Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre - in historic Ybor City, the comedy theatre in Tampa.

State Theatre - concerts take place in this 1924 Beaux-arts architectural theatre in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

Rosa Rio Lived to be 107!

Thank You for Reading and Please Feel Free to Leave a Comment.

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    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      I'm so excited today, as I'm going to see Beethoven's Ninth Symphony performed this evening at Ruth Eckerd Hall. I'll return to this hub soon and write a short review. :)

    • Nick Malizia profile image

      Nick Malizia 

      9 years ago from USA

      Good G-d...that is beautiful! I had no idea (from Tampa too! lol) I liked your Tarpon Hub too, Rebekah. If you ever have the time, please look at my latest page. I'm trying to bring attention to The Bay Area, we have so much potential.

      Now I just have a Hub about the Light Rail issue, but I'd like to make a microcosm related exclusively to the Bay Area!

      Yes, that gothic city interior is beautiful! I've also been to Mahaffey to see that Shen Yun performing group. It was the most beautiful thing I've seen!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks Sandy and Koffee. they are beautiful theatres, aren't they? each of them is different and unique in how they present the great talent that comes to this area. theatre is still one of the great pleasures in life.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      The interior of the Ruth Eckerd Hall is beautiful. Great write up and beautiful pictures.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice hub on this arts center.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Simone! I know you would love the Tampa Theatre.

      It is amazing. You really feel like you're in a dream world while watching a film. I appreciate your warm compliments! :]

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow. I love the interior of the Tampa Bay Theater- so cool! This is a super useful local guide, and with multiple locations, pictures, video, AND links, it's got everything one could need all in one place! Brilliant!


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