It all started with the famous theatre architect known as John Eberson. His mastery in the art of theatre design brought Tampa a landmark that would change downtown Tampa forever, the Tampa Theatre. The completion of construction was in 1926, when the doors opened for the first time for everyone. It was not just the wealthy that were able to enjoy the theatre, but the commoners as well. This was unheard of in most lavish theatres, but the Tampa Theatre was available to all who wanted to attend for just 10 cents.
The beauty and detail of the building from the outside is quickly outdone by the architectural design within. The main hallway lined with mirrors and original design from the artistically tiled floor to the ceiling above, leads guests into a room with a grand staircase and breathtaking surroundings of sculptures, design and a blue ceiling resembling the night sky. A small but warm concession stand can be found on the left with a friendly staff ready to serve tasty popcorn, snacks, drinks and even beer and wine.
Upon entering the Tampa Theatre, it will feel as though you have entered another castle. The size and beauty of the cinema itself will easily take your breath away, with a ground, mid and upper floor all a maze to get to from authentic staircases. The ceiling here also resembles the night sky with faux stars that subtly twinkle throughout the evening. The surrounding walls are anything but easy to describe. Sculptures and statues of birds, balconies and more line every inch of the walls that surround the stage draped with a giant and lush red curtain.
Once seated, about 30 minutes before the show begins, an organist rises from below the stage. The theatre is then filled with the beautiful tones of this immense instrument that is played by the professional hovering above the many pedals and rows of keys. After the organist is lowered below the stage again, the curtain is drawn and the show begins. Whether an Italian film with English subtitles, or an independent film starring Brad Pitt, every show at the Tampa Theatre is a memorable one.
In addition to the shows played throughout the week, the Tampa Theatre has events, holiday themed performances, opportunities to become a member or volunteer and so much more. Since the City rescued the Tampa Theatre from destruction in 1973, the people involved have continued to put together these different shows and events to keep this nationally known theatre alive. The Tampa Theatre is an immense part of Tampa’s history and an experience that will change how you view theatre forever.