Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce that founding Troupe member Teresa Stanley will join them as a cast member in their season opening show, Love, Sung in the Key of Aretha. Teresa Stanley has been a favorite of Sarasota audiences since she became known to them through WBTT. Stanley grew up performing with the Troupe and then went on to perform on Broadway in The Color Purple, and in the national tours of Rock of Ages and the 30th Anniversary tour of Ain't Misbehavin'. This will be the first time she has performed in a Troupe play since leaving the area for New York, over five years ago.

Teresa is one of our biggest stars and is very popular with local audiences, exclaimed Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. She started with the Troupe when she was 14 years old and just blossomed with every role she took. She now enjoys a busy theatrical career based in New York City. We are thrilled that she has a break in her performance schedule and has agreed to be a part of our cast for the season opening play. She's a real professional and a dynamic performer. All the cast is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.

Teresa Stanley's first local musical was WBTT's production of Purlie playing the role of Luttibelle Gussiemae Jenkins. She received rave reviews from critics who called her a shinning star. She went on to play roles in productions such as Showboat, Eubie, All Night Strut, Sophisticated Ladies, Ain't Misbehavin', and Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She landed starring roles as Dorothy in The Wiz, and Effie White in Dreamgirls. Stanley has sung and toured with The New York Harlem Singers, The Broadway Church Ladies, Henry L. Porter and The Love Campaign, Dewayne Harvey and Unrestrained Praise, the Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida, and WBTT. Teresa's long-time dream to appear on Broadway became true in April 2007 when she was cast in The Color Purple, playing countless roles, and ending the run on Broadway as Church Lady Darlene.

Love, Sung in the Key of Aretha is an original production, conceived and written by Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. Set in the summer of 1968, a year of intense political and racial unrest, the play presents a slice of life during that time, as it follows the lives of four African-American women. The music of Aretha Franklin is used to express the frustration, trials and tribulations that face each of them during sometimes happy, sometimes sad events. Besides Stanley, other familiar Troupe members in the cast include Ariel Blue, Tsadok Porter, Allysa White, Santoy Campbell and Mikeyy Mendez. New and performing with the Troupe for the first time are Steve Cannon, Jasmine Le Shea. Damienne Flagler and Chakara Rosa.

Our original plays and musical revues are always among our most popular productions, remarked Jacobs. The success of Marvin Gaye last season inspired me to finish this piece, which has been in my mind for more than a few years.  I think the audience will really relate to Aretha's great lyrics and music which expressed what so many felt in their everyday lives during the tumultuous 1960s.

The play opens on Friday, December 16 and runs through Monday, January 16. All shows Tuesday through Saturday begin at 8:00 pm. Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 pm. The WBTT theater is located at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota. Subscriptions for the 2011-2012 season are still available and cost $75 for four plays. The cost of a single ticket is $28. All are available online at www.wbttsrq.org or by calling the box office at 941-366-1505.

December 2011

Love, Sung in the Key of Aretha opens this week and people are already talking about it! Three local papers, The Observer, Bradenton Herald and Sarasota Herald Tribune published feature stories about this world premiere. Theater goes will not only have the opportunity to see a world premiere but also will be on hand to welcome back Broadway star Teresa Stanley to Sarasota.

Executive Director, Christine Jennings could not be more pleased with the buzz about this show saying, "This is truly a show to see, the Troupe looks fantastic and we are so thrilled to have Teresa home again."

Articles

Teresa Stanley: Off Broadway

The Observer
by Heidi Kurpiela

"Aretha" musical brings actress home with a lot of love

Sarasota Herald Tribune
by Jay Handelman

A Broadway Star Returns

Bradenton Herald
by Wade Tatangelo

For Immediate Release

July 30, 2011

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce its new officers for the 2011-2012 season. They are Julie Leach, president, Alan Kurland, vice president, Mike Rosario, secretary and Cheryl Anderson, treasurer. Additionally, Len Gumley has been added as a member of the Board of Directors. Gumley has been actively involved with the Troupe for many years. He has also served on the Asolo Rep board and been associated with many other cultural organizations in Sarasota/Manatee.

"We are very fortunate to have the leadership of this strong group for our organization," remarked Christine Jennings, Executive Director. "Their expertise and enthusiasm will surely be a driving force for us as we move into our next stages of growth and development."

Three staff members have also been added to the WBTT team. Ann Fowler is the Financial Manager, Toska Strong and troupe member Tsadok Porter are each working as office administrators.

"We have a full house now," Jennings said. "And we are ready to meet the next challenges as we move into our 12th season. Summer shows open July 12 and we look forward to growing our audiences and support in 2011-12."

For more information visit the website at www.wbttroupe.org or call

941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2011

WHO: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT)

WHAT: Open Auditions for men and women aged 18 and older

WHY: To expand the talent pool of the Troupe and offer opportunities to more actors and performers

WHEN: Saturday, July 23rd, 2:00 to 4:00 pm

WHERE: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Theater, 1646 10th Way, Sarasota, FL (behind the Binz building at 10th St and Orange Avenue)

Shows being considered for will be Love Sung in the Key of Aretha, A Raisin in the Sun and Blackbird, The Josephine Baker Story. Be prepared to perform a short monologue and sing a musical selection. Reservations can be scheduled by calling the WBTT office Monday through Friday, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

June 21, 2011

The Soul Crooners, a musical adaptation by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's (WBTT) Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, will open the Troupe's summer season on Tuesday, July 12, at the WBTT theater at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased either online at wbttroupe.org or by calling 941-366-1505. The limited run includes twelve performances, ending on Sunday, July 24. Shows are Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm.

"When we first performed this revue, it was a big success," recalled Nate Jacobs. "Word of mouth spread quickly and performances began to sell out. We are very excited to revive this show in our own home, a real theater performance space.  The audience is in for a real good time!"

The Soul Crooners is a celebration of the music that ushered in a new era of soul during the 70s. The music was known for combining lush orchestrations with great vocalists who could sing unforgettable melodies and heavenly harmonies. Summer audiences will enjoy over 40 hits sung by an all-male ensemble. The cast includes seven familiar members of the Troupe who have been entertaining audiences for many seasons. They are Founder Nate Jacobs, Porter Anderson III, Emmanuel Avraham, Charles Manning, Mikeyy Mendez, Leon S. Pitts II and Sheldon Rhoden. Among the featured songs are hits from artists that embodied this feel-good music, including The Stylistics, The Commodores, The O'Jays, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many more!!

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) was founded in December 1999, by local actor, singer, director and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the only professional black theater company on Florida's West Coast.

The mission of WBTT is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, and attracts diverse audiences while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth.

Throughout the past decade, WBTT has produced many productions locally and around the state of Florida. The company has gained a reputation for high quality, thought-provoking and entertaining performances.

Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through participation in the company's productions. It has provided a platform for talented individuals who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to cultivate their interests and talents. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the WBTT performing arts program have gone on to work with national and regional companies such as The Black Theatre Troupe, Phoenix Arizona; The Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, Tennessee; Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota, Florida; The Asolo Rep, Sarasota, Florida; Stage Door Theatre, Coral Springs, Florida; and Mad River Theatre, West Liberty, Ohio. The company has provided a springboard for many national careers including Apphia Campbell and Teresa Stanley, a featured cast member of The Color Purple and Dreamgirls on Broadway and the national tour of Rock of Ages. In 2010 13-year-old Troupe member Chris Eisenberg made it to the top 48, out of thousands of contestants, on the television show America's Got Talent.

For more information on WBTT, visit the website at www.wbttroupe.org, follow on Facebook or call 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2011

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) recently received a $10,000 grant to upgrade its technology from The Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The grant will be used to purchase new computers, network office computers, train staff, and provide Internet access at the theater to allow for credit card processing. The new technology will greatly improve the business operations of WBTT.

"We are extremely grateful to The Community Foundation of Sarasota County for granting WBTT funds to acquire modern technology necessary in today's digital world," states Christine Jennings, Executive Director. "It is difficult to run an efficient and effective business operation with antiquated computer hardware.  Now, the office staff will be able to communicate seamlessly with each other and with the staff at the theater during productions."

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BACKGROUND

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) was founded in December 1999, by local actor, singer, director and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the first and only professional black theater company on Florida's West Coast.

The mission of WBTT is to "produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, which attracts diverse audiences while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth."

Throughout the past decade, WBTT has produced more than 30 productions locally and around the state of Florida. The company has gained a reputation for high quality, thought-provoking and entertaining performances.

Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through participation in the company's productions. It has provided a platform for talented individuals who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to cultivate their interests and talents. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the WBTT performing arts program have gone on to work with national and regional companies such as The Black Theatre Troupe, Phoenix Arizona; The Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, Tennessee; Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota, Florida; The Asolo Rep, Sarasota, Florida; Stage Door Theatre, Coral Springs, Florida; and Mad River Theatre, West Liberty, Ohio. The company has provided a springboard for many national careers including Apphia Campbell and Teresa Stanley, a featured cast member of The Color Purple and Dreamgirls on Broadway and the national tour of Rock of Ages. In 2010 13-year-old Troupe member Chris Eisenberg made it to the top 48, out of thousands of contestants, on the television show America's Got Talent.

For more information on WBTT, visit the website at www.wbttroupe.org, follow on Facebook or call 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2011

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is pleased to announce that it will present two musical revues during its summer season, which will run in July and August. The Soul Crooners will be presented for two weeks, July 12-24 and Dynamic Duets of the 70s will run from August 16-28. Tickets are priced at $25 each and are on sale now. They may be purchased on the website www.wbttroupe.org or by calling 941-366-1505.

"We are very excited that we can now offer two seasons of wonderful entertainment," remarked Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. "We opened our new home with the shorter summer season last year, in order to try out our new theater space and see what needed to be done. Now we have a full four-play season under our belt, many improvements to our facility and a growing audience that loves what we do. Summer will sizzle at WBTT!"

The Soul Crooners is a celebration of the music that ushered in a new era of soul, one with lush orchestrations, unforgettable melodies, heavenly harmonies and great vocalists. Audiences will enjoy over 40 sweet soul hits sung by a talented all-male ensemble! The show features songs from artists that embodied this feel-good music, including The Stylistics, The Commodores, The O'Jays, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and more!!

The Dynamic Duets of the 70s will feature the sexy, sophisticated soul and rhythm & blues hits of that era. This unique musical revue will put you in the mood for love as it takes you down memory lane. The talented cast of eight singers promises to have you groovin' to the musical hookups of Ashford & Simpson, Rick James and Teena Marie, Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. and more...  As the saying goes, "sometimes it takes two to make it outta sight!"

"The magic of music and the memories it brings back to all of us will be center stage this summer at WBTT," continued Jacobs. "Tickets are starting to sell, so don't wait if you want to enjoy these fun-filled evenings during the summer months."

BACKGROUND:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) was founded in December 1999, by local actor, singer, director and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the first and only professional black theater company on Florida's West Coast.

The mission of WBTT is to "produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, which attracts diverse audiences while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth." Since its inception, WBTT has produced nearly 40 productions locally and around the state of Florida. The company has gained a reputation for high quality, thought-provoking and entertaining performances.

WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through participation in the company's productions. It has provided a platform for talented individuals who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to cultivate their interests and talents. The company has provided a springboard for many national careers including Apphia Campbell and Teresa Stanley, a featured cast member of The Color Purple and DreamGirls on Broadway and the national tour of Rock of Ages. Chris Eisenberg, the youngest member of the Troupe, was in the top 48 finalists of NBC's "America's Got Talent" in 2010.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe reached a new benchmark in the summer of 2010, when it established its first official home at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota, FL. After 10 years of moving to different theaters and spaces to perform, the theater troupe finally has its own space. For more information visit the website www.wbttroupe.org or call 941-366-1505.