Situated on the banks of the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (TBPAC) has been thrilling culture-seekers since its opening in 1987. The largest performing arts center south of Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, TBPAC hosts a huge variety of events on its nine-acre campus and has welcomed more than 10 million audience members during its 20+-year history. During the 2007-2008 season alone, a half-million people made their way through the doors of TBPAC's several venues and enjoyed world-class arts productions presented by myriad performers from around the world.
About the Complex
TBPAC boasts 335,000 square-feet of space and is home to five different theaters. a performing arts Conservatory of approximately 45,000 square-feet, a rehearsal hall, boutiques, and three on-site restaurants and banquet facilities.
- Carol Morsani Hall – This lovely theater is the centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Originally dubbed Festival Hall, it was renamed in 1996 for a local resident who established a major endowment fund that continues to support TBPAC. It is the largest of the performance venues at the Center, seating 2,610 patrons on four levels: orchestra, mezzanine, balcony, and gallery. This theater is used for most major productions, including TBPAC's excellent Broadway offerings.
- Louise Lykes Ferguson Hall – The second-largest hall in the complex, Ferguson Hall seats 1,042 patrons. More intimate in atmosphere, it is generally used for plays, performances by dance troupes, and musical concerts that draw smaller audiences than those scheduled to take place in the main hall. Originally named The Playhouse but renamed in 2000 for a major donor, Ferguson Hall has an orchestra level and two balconies, all providing excellent views.
- Jaeb Theater – Suitable for small audiences of 268 or less, the Jaeb Theater is a popular venue for cabaret-type performances, but seating can be arranged in stadium style as well. This venue is often rented for recording sessions, TV productions, and for business meetings or seminars.
- Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Playhouse – The most intimate of all venues at the complex, Shimberg Playhouse seats 130 audience members and is often used for poetry readings, comic performances, dancers, "performance artists", and small theater companies. It is popular with local artists searching for a quality venue in which to perform.
- TECO Energy Foundation Theater – At 3,500-square-feet in size, this theater was designed to be flexible and contains no permanent furnishings such as a stage or seating. It stands two stories tall and has glass windows and walls on two sides, giving it a very open feeling. It is also used as rehearsal space in addition to being a performance venue. Local musical organizations often rent the space for concerts and recitals.
- The Rehearsal Hall – This 50x70 foot room with 30 foot ceilings serves as rehearsal space not only for visiting performers but also for local groups who need a rehearsal venue from time to time or on a regular basis. With ballet barres and full-length mirrors, it can accommodate dancers as well as musical acts or theater companies.
- The Patel Conservatory – Opened in late 2004, the Patel Conservatory hosts a plethora of weekly, weekend, and after-school courses for all ages. Instructors are local professionals who are skilled in their art, be it music, theater, or dance. A recording studio is located inside the conservatory as well as a costume shop, a scene shop, a library, and a small "black box" theater. Many Tampa Bay locals also volunteer here as assistant teachers, greeters, and office assistants. Encouraging budding performers to "dream, reach, discover, and create", Patel Conservatory depends heavily on donations from the public.
Patrons can enjoy pre- and post-show dinners on the premises of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The complex offers three dining options: Maestro's Restaurant, Maestro's Café, and Maestro's On the River.
The first offers a five-course bistro-style buffet featuring everything from bread and cheeses to elegant desserts, served in a lovely setting. A full bar is also offered. At the café, patrons dine in the lobby outside the Carol Morsani Theater. The menu is the same as the one at the restaurant, but is served in a more bustling setting. Customers at the café may also request al fresco seating. The outdoor Maestro's On the River serves light fare as well as wine and cocktails, offering an excellent view of the river during meals.
Catering and banquet services are also available at TBPAC.