Built downtown in 1987, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (1010 N. W. C. MacInnes Pl., 813/222-1000, www.tbpac.org) is a 335,000-square-foot complex that claims to be the largest performing arts complex in the South. The Center’s enormous size allows for multiple local arts organizations to host performances in its five theaters.
Ranging in size from a tiny playhouse that seats a few more than 100 people to the acoustically stunning Carol Morsani Hall (2,610 seats), the venues at TBPAC host everything from pop concerts and touring Broadway shows to performances by the local Spanish Lyric Theatre (813/936-0127, www.spanishlyrictheatre.com), Opera Tampa (813/222-1003, www.operatampa.org), and local theater groups.
But the performing arts in Tampa are certainly not limited to those groups who rely on the TBPAC for space. The Gorilla Theatre (4419 N. Hubert Ave., 813/879-2914, www.gorilla-theatre.com) is located in an unprepossessing warehouse in the Drew Park district of town; every month the group puts on a new, contemporary work by a local or national playwright.
Music, art, and dance provide the acronym for the MAD Theatre of Tampa (813/386-6173, www.madtheatre.com), and their productions of slightly edgier Broadway and off-Broadway fare (Reefer Madness, The Life) are appropriately staged in Ybor City venues like the Ritz (1503 E. 7th Ave.) or the Marti-Maceo Social Club (1226 E. 7th Ave.).
Fans of contemporary dance should look into performances by Moving Current (813/237-0216, www.movingcurrent.com); the group typically performs at the University of South Florida.
Located downtown, the Florida Museum of the Photographic Arts (200 N. Tampa St., 813/221-2222, www.fmopa.org, $4 suggested donation) is a small gallery usually hosting only one exhibit at a time; the exhibits are well-curated, however, and usually quite extensive.
The Old Hyde Park Art Center (705 Swann Ave., 813/251-3780, www.artgally.com) is situated in an old elementary school and operates both as a gallery and an art school; it has been run by a collective of local artists since 1968, and most of the art inside is by members.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition