Features Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, The Mountaintop,
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, and new musical revue Soul Man,
plus 2017 summer show Broadway in Black and holiday offering A Motown Christmas
SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has announced its 2017-2018 season, with the theme “A Change is Gonna’ Come.” In addition to four regular-season shows, which are included in the season subscription, the schedule includes a summer production and a special holiday show, both being offered outside of the subscription. Running from October 2017 through the end of May 2018, the regular season shows are In the Heights, The Mountaintop, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, starring Broadway legend and Grammy Award-winning recording artist Melba Moore, and Soul Man. The 2017 summer show is Broadway in Black and the holiday show is A Motown Christmas.
“For our eighteenth season, we are not only striving to present wonderful musical offerings but also honoring historical and musical African-American legends, to ensure their contributions are remembered and fully appreciated,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “I’m looking forward to writing two new musical revues for our audiences to enjoy. But we’re particularly excited to present a work by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has broken significant ground during his still-young career.
“We are extremely excited about our 2017-2018 season,” added WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “We feel this lineup of productions showcases the many different facets of WBTT that audiences already love – music, dance and drama that promote and celebrate the African-American experience. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy as well as topics to spark important conversations in our community.”
Preceding the 2017-2018 season is the summer show, Broadway in Black. Broadway musicals have charmed the world for decades; WBTT salutes that genre with an original, world-premiere musical revue by Nate Jacobs. Sing along with your favorite songs from award-winning shows and breakthrough roles that helped launch the careers of Black artists such as Melba Moore in Purlie, Ben Vereen in Pippin, Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls, and Nell Carter in Ain’t Misbehaving’. It’s Broadway, WBTT style – electrifying! Show runs from June 21 – July 25, 2017. Broadway in Black is not included in the subscription series.
WBTT opens the subscription season with the highly-anticipated In the Heights. From the creator of Hamilton comes this captivating story about a vibrant Latino community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, where the corner bodega serves the sweetest coffee, the hair salon is gossip central, and the residents chase the American dream while clinging to their roots. This high energy, multi-Tony Award-winning musical pulsates with a spirited hip-hop beat and scorching Latin-infused rhythms. Runs from October 11 – November 18, 2017.
WBTT opens the New Year with The Mountaintop. After giving a prophetic speech during the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to his hotel room. He orders coffee from room service that is delivered by a mysterious woman with a much greater mission. With vivid theatrical imagination and powerful, often humorous dialogue, the playwright fictionalizes the last night of Dr. King’s life and gives us a window into his hopes, vulnerabilities, and fears. WBTT founding member and 2016 Handy Award-winner Apphia Campbell returns to Sarasota to star in the production. Runs January 10 – February 18, 2018.
In Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, it’s 1959 and legendary musical performer Billie Holiday appears in a small Philadelphia bar for one of her final performances. Audiences get more than expected. She sings a dozen of her beloved classics, like “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” and interlaces them with salty, sometimes funny, stories that reveal a riveting portrait of one of the greatest jazz/blues vocalists of all time. WBTT is thrilled to have signed star of stage, screen and studio Melba Moore to star in this production. Runs February 28 – April 8, 2018.
Nate Jacobs is excited to present another world-premiere musical revue, Soul Man, to close out the season. As the 1960s Civil Rights movement unfolded, black music evolved from the controlled Motown performances to fiery cross-rhythm sounds—a little gospel, a lot of soul. The passionate soloists, such as James Brown, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, added energetic movements and unique vocalizations that inspired many future performers. Soul Man will feature some of WBTT’s most popular male performers. Runs April 18 – May 26, 2018.
During the holiday season – back by popular demand – WBTT presents A Motown Christmas, created and directed by Jacobs. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with this festive holiday revue. It’s the perfect blend of traditional Christmas carols paired with the soulful sounds from such Motown celebrities as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Jackson 5. WBTT’s dazzling signature style makes this a memorable and fun Christmas treat for the entire family. Runs November 29 – December 23, 2017. A Motown Christmas is not included in the subscription series.
Current subscribers will be able to renew their subscriptions beginning April 19th by calling the Box Office at 941.366.1505 (press “1”) or by visiting the website, westcoastblacktheatre.org, to download the subscription form and mail it in. New subscribers may begin purchasing subscriptions on June 1. Subscriptions will be processed in the order that they are received; priority will be given to donors and renewing subscribers. Individual show tickets will be available August 1, 2017.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc., is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on Westcoast Black Theatre, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.