The Traveling Steve's

First hotel stay of 2015

residence logoSo had a wonderful time at Phantom of the Opera last night in Tampa.  We stayed overnight at the Residence Inn, which made for a quick but fun-filled overnighter.  I’m usually a Hilton guy when traveling, but use Marriott as a second choice.  Not that one is better than the other, just try to keep my points to primarily one program, and our company normally uses the Hilton chain.  This Residence Inn shares the property with the adjacent Courtyard Hotel, and is a short two block walk to The Straz Center where we saw the show last night, so the location won us over on hotel choice.  We’ve stayed at this Residence Inn previously and haven’t been disappointed.

Today we went back to Straz for a pre-arranged tour of the huge 6 acre complex.  There are actually 5 theaters there, with the Carol Morsani Hall (we saw Phantom in) being the largest.  DOS and I had a private tour with Bonnie Jeanne, Pauilsh (goes by B.J.), the Manager of Patron Relations, and she was outstanding!  We had arranged this yesterday, and she met us promptly at 10:30am.  We toured the backstage areas, loading docks, saw where the dressing rooms where, and even went down behind the orchestra pit.  She took us up to the top gallery for a different perspective (not good if you’re scared of heights!) and down to where we sat last night in Orchestra 12 section, 3rd row.  She explained how the rows can be moved due to the type of performance (Opera, Musical, play etc), and we lucked out with the extra legroom for the show last night as a result.  We love seeing how things work, and it was simply amazing to think about the work that goes into a production such as Phantom.  It takes 26 tractor-trailers to load all of the equipment, sets, costumes, etc for each traveling production!  The show ends tomorrow, and she said it’s quite a site to watch it be setup, torn down, moved in and out.

We left the theater is awe – it’s a whole different world back-stage there, and you only see a fraction of the theater size from the audience.  Love doing these backstage tours!  Have toured the Grand Ole Opry, as well as many backstage tours on cruise ships, but this was without a doubt the best.  Thanks, B.J.!


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