By Kathy L Collins

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (the Straz Center) opened on September 12, 1987. Since opening, the Straz Center (formerly known as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) has welcomed more that 12 million guests.

The Straz Center will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in style. During the 2012-2013 season there will be special activities and opportunities such as $25 tickets and Fan Favorite performance.

A free 25th Anniversary Open House will be held on Sunday, October 21, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. On Saturday, December 1, the Straz Center will stage the 25th Anniversary Gala featuring Tony Award-winning actress, singer and songwriter, Idina Menzel.

The Straz Center has four state of the art theatres with capacities ranging from 150 to 2,600 as well as a 250-seat teaching theatre. The diverse cultural menu ranges from full scale Broadway productions and grand opera to intimate, one person performances and student showcases.

The 2012-2013 season will be simply magnificent. There will be an array of offerings including the ever popular Best of Broadway Tampa Bay. The line up for 2012-2013 includes War Horse, Elf, Wicked and the Broadway smash hit, The Book of Mormon.

For the opera fan, you can see and hear Verdi’s A Masked Ball or Puccini’s La Boeheme. The Opera Tamp Gala will take place on Saturday, February 9.

The Florida Orchestra kicks off its season on Friday, October 12, with “Opening Night: Beethoven to Bernstein.” The season runs through Friday, May 24, 2013 with Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

The Straz Center offers something for everyone including music, comedy, dance, theatre and the always popular kids’ series- Kid Time Series and Wee Folk Series

Judy Lisi, president and CEO of the Straz Center, said, “The beauty and importance of the Straz Center is that it’s bigger than one performance or genre or class.” Lisi added, “It is a nurturing home to passionate artists, performers, teachers, students and employees. As a stunning gathering place, it feeds the spirit, breaks down barriers and unites the community while also offering transformation and inspiration.”

In addition to providing great entertainment to the community in general, the Straz Center is committed to engaging first time and underserved audiences by providing deeply discounted and even free admissions pursuant to the Community Ticket Program. This program is made possible thanks to the fundraising efforts of members of the Straz Center and the community.

The 45,000-sq.-ft. Patel Conservatory which opened in 2004 provides a wide range of learning experiences in the performing arts. More than 12,000 children and adults have enrolled in a variety of classes and workshops.

The Straz Center is located in downtown Tampa on a picturesque, nine acre site along the Hillsborough River. It is the largest performing arts complex south of the Kennedy Center. More than 600,000 people attend nearly 2,200 on-site events at the Straz Center on an annual basis.

For a detailed list of scheduled shows, events and performances, please visit


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.