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50 Years of Theatrical Wonder at The Mahaffey Theater

By Elisha Neubauer

Before it was torn down in 2004, the arena at the Bayfront Center Complex in Saint Petersburg had long been the location of the big shows- major rock concerts, the Ringling Bros Circus, ice hockey, etc.- but it's the so-called Bayfront Theater that has always been deemed the prestige venue. Since 1965, the Mahaffey Theater has been offering patrons the opportunity to see symphony orchestras, touring Broadway shows, major jazz and comedy artists- performances best suited to a 2,000-seat, intimate venue.

Nestled in between white, sandy beaches and a culturally-rich downtown, the Mahaffey Theater is an architectural gem. An elegant ballroom space, stunning waterfront views, and European box-seating create a refined ambiance. The Mahaffey plays host to both international and national artists and performances ranging from Broadway, classical, pop, and rock to comedy, dance, family, and the renowned Florida Orchestra. The space is also available as a facility rental for weddings, receptions, private parties, or corporate events.

Besides bringing the best in the arts to the stage, the Mahaffey Theater engages the residents of St. Pete with its Class Acts program: "A belief in the power of the arts to educate, inspire, and expand knowledge, self esteem, and creativity in students and adults propels Class Acts and provides the focused vision for this crucial and vital educational opportunity."

The program is well-loved and supported by every member of the community, including Mayor Rick Kriseman, who says, "As Mayor, ensuring a quality education for the young people of the Sunshine City is one of my highest priorities. The Class Acts program at the Mahaffey Theater introduces more than 25,000 students each year to the arts, crossing cultural and economic boundaries to enhance the lives and education of our youth."

The Class Acts program brings many things to the people of the St. Pete area including family programming, performances for special audiences, artist residencies in the schools, workshops and master classes, professional development for arts students and teachers, and adult education events. The program aims to offer meaningful arts experiences in the theater, local schools, and community organizations with a mission to broaden and enhance worldview. Class Acts works with both community organizations and countywide school systems.

With an exquisite performance line-up year round and a devotion to arts education within the community, it's no surprise that the Mahaffey Theater is such a staple in the Saint Petersburg arts scene. "The Mahaffey has been a cornerstone of the community for 50 years and as such, yes, the shows are very well-attended," says Bill DeYoung, Public Relations Manager, when asked about the attendance rates. There's no reason not to head over and join the many patrons that already support the Mahaffey Theater.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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