Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay

This year Taste the Best of Tampa Bay celebrates both its 25th anniversary and its host, The Producers volunteer group. The Producers helped raise more than $1.5 million and countless new friends for the Straz Center through this award winning event over the years.

While some aspects of the event are new (it now has a Facebook page),
others have become tradition. Some of Tampa Bay’s favorite landmark
restaurants, such as the historic Columbia and Sally O’Neal’s, have
served their award-winning culinary delights to hungry crowds at every
Best of Tampa Bay event.

Developed by Guest Quarters Hotels as a way to benefit arts organizations in Atlanta and Houston, the first “Best of” event in Tampa was held in 1985 to support the community’s dream of a new performing arts center – before the Straz Center had even opened.

Three years later the Best of Tampa Bay attracted more than 1,000 people and Guest Quarters handed over the reins to The Producers, Straz Center’s fledgling volunteer group of young professionals. The Producers have hosted the event ever since.

As a member of The Producers, Joe Reineman has been a part of every Best of Tampa Bay. “The original intent was to introduce people to the Straz Center. It’s hard to think that was ever an issue — now so many shows sell out,” Reineman says.

The annual event invited the community to get to know their new Performing Arts Center while enjoying food from more than 40 of Tampa’s best restaurants, open bar, the best live entertainment and other “best of” surprises.

For several years there was a competitive edge to the event. Esteemed
judges from the Culinary Arts Institute and food editor Mildred Ying of Good
Housekeeping magazine were brought in to taste samples and bestow awards.

Eventually, attendees became the judges in a variety of ‘People’s Choice’

The event, now called Taste the Best of Tampa Bay, remains one of the Straz Center’s top annual fund- and friendraisers bringing an average of 1,200 to 1,800 people out to share an evening of feasting and fun each spring.

Take advantage of a special offer just for our friends who read our blog and friend us on social media platforms like facebook and twitter. You can get $45 tickets for the 7 p.m. entrance with the promo code PRO!
Enjoy - and save me some Bang Bang Shrimp!
-Kari G.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

$10 off Cirque Dreams Illumination

Save $10 off tickets to see Cirque Dreams' newest creation, Illumination, when the show comes to the Straz Center for one week, March 23-28. The discount is valid on the Tuesday and Wednesday performances only. Just use promo code SOCIAL when ordering tickets.

Limit 4 tickets. Tuesday and Wednesday, price levels 1, 2 and 3 only. Not applicable to prior sales. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Subject to availability.

If you can't decide which performance, we might be able to help...

Tuesday has a special post-show talkback with members of the cast.
If you join us Wednesday, it's Broadway Family Night with special pre-show activities for the kids. Plus we have a different discount offer for families. You receive a free child's ticket (12 and under) when you purchase a full priced adult ticket. (Sorry, you can combine the offers.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Refresh Everything

YOU can vote to help us win $250,000 for our arts education programs - all without leaving your computer.

The Straz Center has a bold idea – provide 15,000 children in our community with FREE dance, music and theater classes through the Patel Conservatory's School & Community Partnerships program. The Refresh Everything project is giving away millions of dollars to fund great ideas like ours and we need your help to receive a $250,000 grant.
Vote for the Straz Center’s idea here.

You may vote once a day from each of your email accounts. (You will be asked to register the first time.)

Two winners among all the competing ideas are selected every month, based on the number of votes received.

We're all extremely busy but this is an extraordinary opportunity where YOU can make a difference with one simple click. Please, vote each day this month and win an incredible gift for this wonderful program!

Mmmmmm... refreshing...

Straz Center Gives Back

Special thanks to all who participated in the Tampa Bay ALS Walk. This 1.5 mile walk raised money to defeat ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The event began at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Center and was an amazing and emotional day for all involved. Our own staff raised well over their goal and we congratulate all those who walked.

And the winner is...

Dreams do come true…Cirque Dreams Illumination and the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have teamed up to make one aspiring local teen’s dream come true. On Saturday, Feb. 27, Tampa contestants auditioned to “Run Away with Cirque Dreams” at an open casting call at the Westshore Plaza. Today it was announced that 13-year-old Caroline Hamby of Tampa has been chosen to perform on stage with Cirque Dreams Illumination when the show plays at the Straz Center, March 23–28.

Caroline is about to experience her first professional showbiz opportunity. Cirque Dreams Illumination will mark her theatrical debut in a highly entertaining Broadway-style production. Jill Winters, Broadway star and Musical Director of Cirque Dreams, has written a song exclusively for Caroline to showcase her vocal skills when she performs live Thursday, March 24 at the Straz Center. Caroline will train, rehearse and be staged in a custom designed costume appearing alongside Cirque Dreams’ ensemble of some of the best athletes, gymnasts and artists in the world including So You Think You Can Dance phenomenon, Robert Muraine.

“Caroline’s vocal skills are unique for a 13-year-old and have enabled us to create a special role for her in the show” said Broadway producer and Cirque Dreams creator Neil Goldberg. “Her performance and vocal maturity will captivate audiences at the Straz Center as it did our creative team when she auditioned at Westshore Plaza. It’s just passing the dream forward.” Goldberg added, “I too was once that dreamer who imagined one day being part of a professional Broadway experience…now it’s Caroline’s break.”

Caroline is an eighth-grader at Martinez Middle School where she performs with her school choir. An excellent student, she recently applied for the International Baccalaureate program at Hillsborough High School. Her goal is to eventually attend New York University for musical theater. Caroline has been singing since the age of two and performs regularly with Curtain Call Theater after school. The “Run Away with Cirque Dreams” contest marks her first ever professional audition and stage performance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Patty Larkin on NPR

If you are a fan of our Club Jaeb series, you've been listening and supporting "musician's musicians" for a while. The folk and Americana scene is full of highly respected artists who may not find themselves in the "mainstream" music industry.

One of the most beloved artists in the folk and Americana music scene is Patty Larkin. We've been fortunate enough to have her on our Club Jaeb stage and she is proudly releasing a new and innovative collaborative album "25." NPR did a feature story on the process and if you listen closely, you'll hear several former and future Club Jaeb performers mentioned. (Like Jonatha Brooke who will perform on May 17).


-Kari G.