Tampa Bay Theaters and Performing Arts Centers
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
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
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.
Luxurious Interior of Mahaffey Theater
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
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
St. Petersburg Map
More Tampa Bay Theaters
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
Tampa Bay Theaters and Performing Arts Center Links
- St. Petersburg Opera Company
2010-2011 opera schedule for Palladium Theatre and images of interior seating arrangement.
- Tampa Bay Movies & TV | Metromix Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Movies and TV from Metromix, listing the best movies, showtimes, movie theaters, movie reviews, tv shows and what to watch.
- Ruth Eckerd Hall - Tampa Bay\'s Favorite Performing Arts Center
Ruth Eckerd Hall engages the community to master, experience, discover and explore quality performing arts in Tampa Bay and Clearwater, Florida.
- Museum of Fine Arts . St. Petersburg, Florida
The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida has the only comprehensive art collection, extending from antiquity to the present, on the Florida west coast. See outstanding works of art in galleries designed for leisurely reflection.
- The Dali Museum
The Salvador Dal Museum is the permanent home of the world's most comprehensive collection of the renowned Spanish artist's work.
- The Palladium Theater
Since its creation in 1998, The Palladium's central mission has been to serve as a community theater.
- Mahaffey Theater - Progress Center Theater for the Arts
- Channelside Cinemas 10
Now featuring Song Digital Cinema 4K projection.
- Straz Center Official Website
The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) provides world class entertainment, ranging from lavish Broadway shows to orchestra and rock concerts. It is the largest facility of its kind in th