Tampa – Straz Center – CATS

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Sometimes in life, a thoughtful act of kindness comes along, and the impact is deeper than you realize.  When a very lovely friend of ours discovered she wasn’t going to be able to attend a show she had tickets for, and offered them to us, the emotions it brought forth were immense.  Mark and I had the pleasure of attending the second to last night of the Broadway musical CATS at the Straz Center in Tampa last weekend, and we are still feeling the effects. Dinner, a show, and a Memory.

Even though we have been together for 12 years, it hadn’t occurred to me that we had never attended a theater production together… or that Mark hadn’t been to a Broadway play EVER before.  I guess I had drug him to so many concerts over the years that I was blinded to the fact that he had never had that type of experience.  I was lucky enough to have a mother and sister, grandma, aunt, and cousin that I had seen many shows with in the past.  In fact, I saw CATS in New York City thanks to my uncle when I was a pre-teen in the 90’s and literally sat on THE stage!!!  Through my adolescence and young adulthood, I became part of the rock concert scene and never really looked back. But truth be told – as a girl that grew up in chorus from elementary to high school – performing arts is part of my soul… even if it was lost for a while. 

Mark and I “casually” dressed up and headed to Tampa.  We don’t spend much time there unless we are working or volunteering at Big Cat Rescue, so it always feels like an adventure.  Like we always do, we arrived early, we found street parking near the Barrymore Hotel and then just started walking toward “restaurants near me” google searches. 

Something you should know is that it’s Mark’s dream to go to Japan, and we are a sucker for anywhere with sushi and sake, so we of course saw Haiku and headed straight there.

We loved the look of the outdoor patio, and the inside was magazine quality too, so we crossed our fingers and hoped they would accommodate our walk-in – it was no issue for an early Saturday night to sit outside. Beautiful drinks, top of the line brussels sprout appetizer and amazing picture-perfect sushi later – we were ready to head to the show.  

It was only a few blocks from the Straz Center, and thankfully it was dry and gorgeous weather for December in Tampa. One of those types of nights where you keep saying it out loud how lucky we are to live here.

The last performance I had been to at the Straz Center was Aladdin with mom in February 2020, right before the entire world shut down from the pandemic, so I was unsure how this experience would go.  The Straz Center is requiring all attendees to show a negative COVID test or be fully vaccinated and show their vaccine card and ID before entry.  We are both full vaccinated and the process was super simple and not a big deal at all.  Once inside, we noticed that the major change was NO food or drink inside the theaters, so if you wanted something you needed to make it quick – but you could take in bottled water – shoooo!.  The other major noticeable change for me was no live orchestra. The music was pre-recorded, it’s not something that Mark would have noticed, but I did. Some of the emotion was gone compared to seeing a play like that with real musicians.   However, the end result was the same, we both still cried like babies – maybe it’s the storyline, maybe it’s all the recent losses of our feline friends, maybe it’s just the way of the world right now – but like always – the show brought us to tears, laughter, more tears, and then to our feet – applauding for more.  I hope to make this type of experience a more regular occurrence for us in the future, but for now, we are forever grateful for this memory. Thank you, Barbara!

“All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then.

I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again”

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