For Immediate Release

October 26, 2009

(SARASOTA) The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT), Sarasota/Manatee's only theater company presenting work by and about African Americans, is pleased to announce it will be celebrating its 10th-year anniversary in 2010. To commemorate this benchmark, the company will hold a pre-season evening of entertainment on Thursday, October 29, 2009, at Michael's on East in Sarasota. The public is invited to attend.

According to Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, "When I first started WBTT, my vision was to add some diversity to the area's arts scene. What I saw lacking was a venue in which the African-American voice could be heard by audiences of all ethnicities.  Ten years later, we are still building audiences and diversifying Florida's cultural landscape. I'm so proud of our accomplishments. Our 10th Anniversary Celebration will be a fitting tribute and a night to remember."

WBTT's 10th Anniversary Celebration will feature a musical revue of the company's ten-year history, including performances from the debut show Cotton Club Cabaret as well as songs from Ain't Misbehavin', Five Guys Named Mo, Dream Girls, The Wiz, Sophisticated Ladies and last year's 70s Musical Review. Performers will include five of the original six troupe members, as well as past troupe members. Among the performers will be Teresa Stanley who began her career with WBTT and has gone on to become a nationally-known star performing in Broadway's The Color Purple and Dream Girls. She recently completed a national tour of the 30th anniversary of Ain't MisBehavin'.

"We are thrilled that Teresa's schedule was open and that she is able to return home to be at our event," continued Jacobs. "WBTT provided her an opportunity to nurture her talents and helped her to achieve a wonderful career. She has not lost sight of that and seems to be as excited as we are to have her contribute to our evening's success."

Lead sponsor for the event is Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice. Others participating as sponsors are Esther M. Mertz Trust, Ian Black and Rosann Argenti, the Herald Tribune Media Group and SNN News 6. Community leaders co-chairing the event include Carol Buchanan, Christine Jennings, Carolyn Michel, Gail Fulton Ross and Daisy Saunders. Tickets to this one-night-only revue are $100 per person and may be purchased by calling 941-366-1505 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. with cocktails and a variety of food stations. Program and entertainment to follow.

"Throughout its ten-year journey, WBTT has retained a stellar reputation for producing high-quality, high-energy productions," remarked Howard Millman, president of the Board of Trustees. "When I retired from the Asolo Repertory Theatre as producing artistic director, I thought my days were going to be filled with golf, travel and reading. But, I was so intrigued by this company's vitality, talent and professionalism, that when asked, I couldn't resist stepping forward to help them proceed. My involvement has just begun and I am energized by what lies ahead during this 10th anniversary season and beyond."

Presently "under construction," the website will soon provide more information on the WBTT and its upcoming 10th Anniversary season. Season tickets will also be available for purchase through the website. All performances are presented at the Sarasota Arts Center, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Performances begin at 8:00 pm.

For Immediate Release

Date December 8, 2009

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce that it has added ten new members to its Board of Trustees. The new members are Jesse Biter, president/CEO Biter Enterprises, LLC; Jo Ann Bono, a Tony award-winning producer, Eleanor Merritt Darlington, artist and educator; Jaih Jackson, D.D.S, founder American Family Dental; Bob Johnson, retired; Julie Leach, community volunteer; Marian Moss, commercial real estate developer; Mary Ann Robinson, community volunteer; Magdiel "Mike" Rosario, president RoseBay Real Estate; and Michael Saunders, founder, Michael Saunders & Company.

According to Howard L. Millman, president of WBTT's Board and former producing director of the Asolo Theatre, "The new members represent a cross-section of influential community advocates who believe in the mission and vision of WBBT: to produce plays that promote the African American experience, attract diverse audiences, continue to support African American artists and build the self-esteem of African American youth. With the guidance and efforts of this impressive and dedicated group, WBTT will be able to grow its influence and its audiences now and for many years to come."

In addition to Millman, other returning members of WBTT's Board include Samuel D. Hicks, secretary; Michael Bush, treasurer; and June Gordon.

In its 10th anniversary year, WBTT has an ambitious plan for growth. To that end, an advisory group of community leaders from the business, arts, media, education and government fields has also been formed to promote and support the mission of the Troupe. The list of Advisory Board members includes: Morgan R. Bentley, Esq., Lynne Bernfield, Carol Buchanan, Carroll Buchanan, Ron Carter, Judy Cuppy, Linda DesMarais, E. Keith DuBose, Esq., Michael

Gardiner, David Goldman, Ron Greenbaum, Len Gumley, Charlie Huisking, Michael Karp, Esq., Commissioner Carolyn Mason, Melba Moore, Jim Neal, Dr. Henry L. Porter, Robert Roskamp, Edna Holliman Sherrell, David Simon, Lori Simon, Eva T. Slane, Paul Thatcher, Robbie Tisch, Sally Yanowitz and Barbara A. Zdravecky.

"Michael Shelton and I became involved with WBTT because we wanted to see the Troupe continue to provide wonderfully talented and diverse productions in the community," shared Christine Jennings, co-managing executive director. "We also wanted them to continue offering a venue for aspiring youth. Organizations need missions but without great community support they cannot survive. WBTT is about to have a major growth spurt. The excitement and enthusiasm is thrilling. Everyone on the team is excited to be a part of it."

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. 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. 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 Dream Girls on Broadway.

For more information on WBTT call 941-366-8121 or visit the website at www.wbttroupe.org.