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The Tampa Theatre boasts a phenomenal organ that really rocks the house and even in increadibly bright Florida it’s always dim and cool inside. The real hit is the twinkling stars in the ceiling and clouds that pass over it!
The theatre serves up an unique mix of movies that you won’t find at your local cineplex as well as concerts. You haven’t REALLY experienced Echo & The Bunnymen until you’ve done it Tampa Theatre style…also caught Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, David Byrne and many other concerts there. It’s also home to the annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (used to serve on the board). One year the ancient abandoned YMCA building right next to it caught fire…a total loss! The whole town was horrified the theatre would go too, but thanks to the TFD they saved it. The show had to go on two days after the fire and the theatre reeked of smoke, but worse still they were using a wrecking ball to take down sections of the old YMCA. Throughout the movie “Passion” (which is already a VERY tense movie) all you could hear was the constant pounding of the wrecking ball and the theatre shaking ever so slightly. Everyone’s nerves were totally wrecked by the end of the movie and fled accross the street to The Hub for some of their wickedly strong cocktails.
The Midway is one of two ornately themed movie theatres in Rockford and both are spanish themed; the other being the wonderful Coronado which underwent restoration and preservation in the 1970s. The Midway didn’t luck out quite so well as it’s in an edgier neighborhood and sufferred a pretty nasty fire in the 1970s that destroyed a lot of it’s unique charm. I have great memories of dragging my poor grandmother off to see “Monty Python’s Holy Grail” on a double bill with “The Groove Tube” and the poor thing had NO IDEA what she was in for! It also hosted “Rocky Horror” for a number of years on Friday nights.
It’s most recent claim to fame was being used in Cheap Trick’s “Say Goodbye” video with great shots of the exterior and performance on the inside. Rather appropriate since Cheap Trick hails from Rockford and the video has great shots of the town too. Mostly the Midway is down to concerts and getting a tad ratty. Pity.