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Judith Lisi

Officially, she´s not artistic director; she´s president of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. But whatever the specific title, Judith Lisi is, more than any other single person, responsible for the vibrancy of the performing arts in the Bay area. Her watchword is ¨variety¨ — Broadway touring companies and local actor´s theater, homegrown grand operas and imported holiday spectaculars, Tampa-crafted musicals and political satire from Washington. It´s thanks to Lisi that local audiences saw the raucous Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the surprisingly savvy I Love You, You´re Perfect, Now Change, and John McGivern´s exhausting virtuoso performance in Fully Committed. Lisi´s TBPAC also brought us the stellar touring company of Mel Brooks´ sublime The Producers, a locally assembled version of Puccini´s classic Turandot, and the angst-ridden high school confessions of Rob Nash in Holy Cross Sucks!. By giving resident company status to Jobsite Theater, Lisi brought Off-Broadway-style shows like Bloody Poetry and The Mineola Twins to Bay-area audiences, and she pleased dance lovers on both sides of the Howard Frankland Bridge with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Noche Flamenca, Diavolo Dance Theater and Brown Butterfly. Anyone who remembers what the Tampa theater scene was like in the pre-Lisi era can tell you that there´s just no comparison: TBPAC under Judy has made a huge difference. And with the building of the Dr. Pallavi Patel Performing Arts Conservatory, there will finally be a venue in Tampa where not-yet-professionals of all ages can take their first steps toward artistic achievement. Brava, Lisi!

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