Skin in the Game

The Straz Center’s Broadway investments return Tony Award®-winning shows to our stages and keep new shows in the works.

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Morsani Hall (Photo: brianadamsphoto.com)

The Straz Center isn’t just a tour stop for big Broadway show-stoppers. Most of the time, we’ve been on the ground floor as a producer, investing in the show and banking on its success. Every year, our audiences enjoy the extraordinary results of some savvy investing by our President and CEO Judy Lisi.

“I think people have this idea that we kind of pick shows off the shelf,” Lisi says, “but that’s not quite how it works. We’re very dedicated to supporting these shows from the start, so we have a relationship with them.” Lisi, who has built wonderful partnership with show business moguls in New York and London, has a keen sense of when to jump on an investment opportunity with new shows in development for Broadway. Shows such as Tootsie, Escape to Margaritaville and Tony®-winners for Best Musical Hadestown and The Band’s Visit are all co-produced by the Straz Center.

The Straz has investments in several buzz-worthy new shows including Diana, Moulin Rouge, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical, The Lehman Trilogy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sing Street and Jagged Little Pill— some which have already opened to rave reviews and enthusiastic audiences, but are on hiatus due the COVID-19 pandemic. Others will hit the Great White Way in the months to come. “When we have really successful shows, the money we make goes right back to the general fund; we’re a nonprofit, so a show’s success is a huge success for the mission of The Straz.”

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Judy Lisi with Ben Platt, the original Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, at the 2017 Broadway League Spring Road Conference in New York.

In the past, Lisi has anted up for such hits as Dear Evan Hansen, In the Heights, Ain’t Too Proud, Kinky Boots, Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, Waitress, The Producers and almost 100 other Broadway or touring shows from Green Day’s American Idiot to 2004’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

“The Straz Center is so much more than Tampa Bay’s local Broadway house,” Lisi says. “We are very active in New York and nationally with these shows to make sure we have vibrant Broadway productions. We’re present on a national level, making an economic and artistic impact across the country.”

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