Step back in time and enjoy the single-character performances that bring turn-of-the-century Tampa Bay Hotel staff members and guests to life. Each character is based on wholly or in part on actual hotel staff and guests. Based on original research conducted by the Henry B. Plant Museum, these characters recreate the attitudes and mores of a bygone time, along with the sorrows and joys of their existence.
Most Sundays at 2:00 pm
From the reminiscences of Henry Plant himself on what led him to build such a palace, to the letters home written by a Spanish-American War soldier, you will learn more about the time period through each character's particular vantage point. Performances are 30 minutes and are included with admission to the Museum. Arrive early as limited seating is available on a first-come first-served basis.
Upstairs/Downstairs is graciously underwritten by Mosaic and with the support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
The characters are performed in rotation-one each Sunday.
All performances are open to the public with museum admission.
Hunting and Fishing Guide, 1895
The dashing Tampa Bay Hotel hunting and fishing guide is adept at trapping all kinds of game, as well as hunting on horseback to avoid rattlesnakes. Mr. Schleman is a true storyteller who has definite opinions about everything from horseless carriages, called motorcars, to past and current events. He can recite poetry by heart and is a would-be gentleman of means.
Arthur Schleman is played by actor Dan Khoury.
, Telegraph Operator, 1913
Polly hails from Georgia and presents attitudes and aspirations of a new woman
- that is, a woman with a career. Polly explains the beginning of the 20th century as a world of rapid technological and social changes. She touches on the dilemmas inherent in the role of the professional woman.
Pauline Smith is played by actor Barbara Eaker.
“The Bishop”, Head Waiter, 1905
Otis represents the professional black man of the era. He knows the “downstairs” viewpoint of the social goings-on at the Tampa Bay Hotel from a behind-the-scenes perspective. He knows how polite society should behave; not every member can pass his “soup test.” Otis is a self-educated, intelligent man who overcomes the confinements of his station in life.
Otis Freedman is played by actor Josh Goff.
, Laundress, 1920
Maggie is a lively and ambitious woman who has a story or two to tell about famous guests at the Tampa Bay Hotel including her favorite, Sarah Bernhardt. As a personal maid, Maggie has seen some of the finer things in life. As for the not so fine, she has her dreams and her religion that keep her hopeful.
Maggie Stroud is played by actor Amber Forbes.
, Guest and First Lady, 1901
Edith Roosevelt visited the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1898. Her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, was in town with his famous Rough Riders waiting for word to leave for Cuba and fight in the Spanish-American War. Later, as First Lady, she assumed her duties with dignity and character.
Edith Roosevelt is played by actor Mary Jordan.
Henry A. Dobson
, Spanish-American War Soldier, 1898
Henry A. Dobson, 1st
Sergeant, Company D, 1st
D.C. Volunteers was 20 years old when he was encamped with his regiment in Tampa prior to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Dobson documented his daily experiences in numerous personal letters home. Enthusiastic and eager, he shares his opinions about the army and Tampa with insight, honesty, and humor.
Henry Dobson is played by actor Harrison Baxley.
, former Lieutenant Colonel of the Rough Riders, circa 1900
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt (ret.) returns to the Tampa Bay Hotel to relive his experiences leading up to the U.S. invasion of Cuba. As Lt. Col. of the Rough Riders (as fine a collection of cowboys and blue bloods as one could ask), Roosevelt casts his critical eye on the military preparations for the war with Spain. Theodore talk of the army camps, the condition on the troopships and his time spent with his wife, Edith, at the Tampa Bay Hotel. His recollections are made through the lenses of a commissioned officer, family man and indomitable spirit. So saddle up for a thrilling ride as Roosevelt rides again!
Theodore Roosevelt is played by actor Michael Norton.
Henry Bradley Plant
, President of the Plant System and builder of the Tampa Bay Hotel, 1899
Henry Plant exemplifies the self-made man during America's Industrial Age. He is the visionary president of the Plant System and builder of the Tampa Bay Hotel. Not usually one to talk about himself or his accomplishments, Mr. Plant takes a rare moment to reflect on his life. Sharing details about building his empire of steamship and rail lines and luxury hotels, Mr. Plant talks about how the Plant System was central to the development to Tampa. He even reveals some of his personal work ethic.
Henry Plant is portrayed by actor Gregory Thompson.
September 3 - Maggie Stroud
September 10 - Edith Roosevelt
September 17 - Pauline Smith
September 24 - Teddy Roosevelt
October 1 - Arthur Schleman
October 8 - Edith Roosevelt
October 15 - Arthur Schleman
October 22 - Otis Freedman
November 5 - Pauline Smith
November 12 - Henry Dobson (performance in Music Room)
November 19 - Henry Plant (performance in Music Room)
November 26 - Arthur Schleman (performance in Music Room)
December 3 - Teddy Roosevelt (strolling character interaction)
December 10 - Maggie Stroud (performance in Music Room)
December 17 - Edith Roosevelt (performance in Music Room)
December 31 - Otis Freedman (performance in Music Room)
January 7 - Pauline Smith
January 14 - Henry Dobson
January 21 - Henry Plant
January 28 - Maggie Stroud
February 4 - Edith Roosevelt
February 11 - Maggie Stroud
February 18 - Teddy Roosevelt
February 25 - Otis Freedman
March 3 - Arthur Schleman
March 10 - Pauline Smith
March 17 - Henry Dobson
March 24 - Henry Plant
March 31 - Teddy Roosevelt
April 7 - Maggie Stroud
April 14 - Edith Roosevelt
April 21 - Otis Freedman
April 28 - Arthur Schleman
May 5 - Pauline Smith
May 12 - Edith Roosevelt
May 19 - Teddy Roosevelt
May 26 - Henry Dobson (performance in Music Room)
June 2 - Maggie Stroud
June 9 - Henry Plant
June 16 - Teddy Roosevelt
June 23 - Otis Freedman
June 30 - Arthur Schleman
July 7 - Pauline Smith
July 14 - Edith Roosevelt
July 21 - Maggie Stroud
July 28 - Henry Dobson
August 4 - Henry Plant
August 11 - Teddy Roosevelt
August 18 - Otis Freedman
August 25 - Arthur Schleman