For Immediate Release

April 14, 2011

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) and New College Foundation invite the public to join in a celebration of Ann Hobson Pilot's groundbreaking career as Principal Harpist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and her teaching and philanthropic work around the world. The event will take place at the Mildred Sainer Pavilion, 5313 Bay Shore Road, on April 20, 2011, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM, and will feature the local premiere of a recently released 30-minute film by the Boston Symphony, A Harpist's Legacy: Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change. Proceeds will benefit WBTT. Tickets are $15.00 and are available by calling 941.366.1505.

Co-chairs of the event are Audrey Coleman and Dr. Susan M. Brainerd.

Ann Hobson Pilot is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music. She joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1969 and became principal harpist in 1980. Prior to that she played with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Washington National Symphony. Mrs. Pilot has had an extensive solo career, performing with many orchestras in the U.S. and around the world.

Mrs. Pilot is the recipient of a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bridgewater State College. In 1998 and 1999 she was featured in a video documentary sponsored by the Museum of Afro-American History and WGBH, aired nationwide on PBS, about her personal musical journey as well as her journey in Africa to find the roots of the harp. Mrs. Pilot is on the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She is a member of the contemporary music ensemble Collage and has also performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Newport Music Festival, and the Sarasota Music Festival, among others. She is a member of the Ritz Chamber Players and has performed extensively with them in concerts around the country.

For Immediate Release

April 4, 2011

[SARASOTA] - Race, Romance and Reverie will be the theme permeating the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's 2011 - 2012 season of plays. For its 12th year, the troupe will present two world premiere musicals, a one-man original revue, and an award-winning drama.

One of the original shows will be written by Nate Jacobs, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder and Artistic Director. Love, Sung in the Key of Aretha is the story of four women who live together in a Florida apartment building. They musically review their life experiences as told through the songs made famous by the legendary Aretha Franklin. This will be a celebration of Aretha's masterful artistry, bigger-than-life talent and understanding of human relationships.

The second world premiere, Blackbird: The Josephine Baker Story, is by veteran playwright, screenwriter and lyricist, Sherman Yellen, who wrote the Broadway musicals Rex and The Rothschilds and was the winner of two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Music is by Wally Harper. The play traces the life of Josephine Baker from Jim Crow America to Paris, where she became a stage sensation. It is presented in ""pure musical comedy style"" ... it's funny, sexy, exuberant! Baker is the ultimate rags-to-riches story despite the difficult times in which she lived.

WBTT is proud to present the multi-talented De'zhon Fields as one of the greatest superstars, Sammy Davis Jr. in his original revue, "SAMMY"" Tonight! A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.¨ This musical revue features all of the hits he made famous including: "I've Gotta Be Me," "Mr. Bojangles" and "Candy Man." For the past ten years, Mr. Fields has traveled worldwide showcasing his homage to the legendary icon known as "Mr. Entertainment." From Vegas to Dublin, Fields has audiences clamoring for more.

The widely acclaimed A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, will be the only drama of the season. In this powerful production, conflict arises when an insurance check provides the means to fulfill conflicting dreams for a mother and her two children. Hope, racism, feminism and pride are some of the themes in the play about a poor black family's struggle to gain middle-class acceptance in 1950s Chicago. This was first play written by a black woman that was produced on Broadway. Nominated for four Tony Awards, the New York Times wrote "this play changed American theater forever." Raisin was named the best play of 1959 by the NY Drama Critics' Circle and was a highly successful film.

"I am truly excited about the plays selected for this season. We will be telling the story of not only the challenges but the triumphs of African Americans beginning in the 1920s with Josephine Baker and carrying through today with Aretha Franklin," states Nate Jacobs. "The history of African Americans often tells stories of heartbreak, racism and cruelty, but shining through is the strength and spirit of these people to succeed and, in doing so, forever inspire us."

Season subscription holders pay $75 for all four productions and are able to get their choice of dates before they are available to the general public. Single tickets go on sale in October and will be $28 each.  Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 941.366.1505 or online at www.wbttroupe.org.

The WBTT Theatre is located at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota.

For Immediate Release

March 11, 2011

Third show in the first season of the new Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) theater opens with the popular Five Guys Named Moe, and runs until Sunday, April 3rd. The Clarke Peters musical features the music of Louis Jordan, who was ranked fifth in the list of all-time most successful black recording artists according to Billboard Magazine and, in 2004, ranked 59th on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. It is the second time the Troupe has performed the show; the first production selling out most performances.

"Five Guys Named Moe was a perfect choice for our company," remarked Nate Jacobs, Founder and Artistic Director of WBTT. "It's got great energy, terrific songs and fast-moving choreography with high-spirited, fun, audience participation. With Harry Bryce in town to direct the actors and LaTerry Butler to direct the musicians, I don't see how we can miss."

The cast of Five Guys Named Moe features actors long associated with the Troupe, one enjoying his first season, as well as three guest artists. Leon S. Pitts II will be a familiar face to frequent audience members as he has been on stage almost every season. Porter L. Anderson III is another long-time Troupe member. Mikeyy Mendez is performing in his first season with WBTT, while studying music at a local university.

Guest artists include performers Earley Dean from Seattle, D. William Hughes of New York and Donald Frison, from Memphis, who appeared in this season's Ain't Misbehavin'.

Director of the show is Harry Bryce, who directed Ain't Misbehavin,' this year's season opener. Bryce has had and continues to have an impressive career, with over thirty years experience as a director, choreographer, writer, and arts educator. He founded the Memphis Black Repertory Theatre (MBRT) and served as its producing artistic director for five seasons. He produced and directed twenty-one productions for MBRT including Five Guys Named Moe. Under his direction, MBRT garnered seventeen theatre awards.

Five Guys Named Moe originated in London in 1990 at the Theatre Royal Stratford and ran for more than four years in another theater in the city's West End. The show premiered on Broadway in April 1992 and enjoyed a 445-performance success. The musical was nominated for several Tony awards and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Best Choreography.

The story features a guy named Nomax, whose girlfriend has left him and who is without money. He finds Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe, and Little Moe emerging from his 1930s-style radio to comfort him. They sing the hit songs of songwriter and saxophonist Louis Jordan, whose new slant on jazz paved the way for rock and roll in the 1950s.

"Five Guys Named Moe is a fun, fast-moving musical," Jacobs continued. "Once again, WBTT expects to have audiences dancing in the their seats as they enjoy a talented cast presenting this wonderful production of a timeless musical play."

To order tickets or know more about WBTT, go to the website www.wbttroupe.org or call 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2011

SARASOTA: Howard J. Millman, president of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's board of trustees, is pleased to announce two new board members: Michael James Gardiner and Alan P. Kurland.

"For nearly two years, Michael Gardiner has committed resources and time to the marketing of WBTT. His generosity has proved invaluable," states Millman. "Alan Kurland has been a successful entrepreneur who also knows the artistic and business side of running a theater. These two gentlemen bring an expertise to the board that will greatly enhance our efforts."

Michael Gardiner comes to the board with vast experience in marketing and sales in the travel and hospitality industries. He held executive positions in Diners Club International, Resorts Condominiums International and Hertz Rent A Car, where he was the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Avid theater buffs, Michael and his wife Karen divide their time between Los Angeles and Sarasota.

Alan P. Kurland has lived in Sarasota and Maryland since 2001. His first professional job was as Artistic Director of the Theatre of Savannah. He served as an overseas Army Combat Correspondent. When Kurland returned home, he became a residential home builder/developer in the Washington, D.C. area, Florida and California. He also founded a software retail company. Prior to joining WBTT, Kurland was vice-president and treasurer of the Asolo Repertory Company Board.

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe 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.

For Immediate Release

January 12, 2011

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) will open Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music, on Friday, January 28 in its new theater at 1646 10th Way, in Sarasota. The musical play is an original production, written and directed by WBTT Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. It will run for just over three weeks, through Sunday, February 20.

"I am a personal fan of Marvin Gaye's music," Jacobs explained.  "He has influenced my own singing career.  My mother was a devoted fan and introduced me to his music as a kid.  I felt it would be wonderful to celebrate this artist's contribution to American music, especially as we enter February and honor Black History Month."

Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music showcases the music that Marvin Gaye fans have come to love and respect. The story shares important facts about Marvin Gaye's life and achievement. It begins in the late 50s before his early days at Motown and continues through the end of his solo career, which ended at the time of his untimely and tragic death in the mid 80s. The show plays on a simple stage set with an ensemble cast of eight, talented, Troupe members, all actors and singers, who are accompanied by a live four-piece band.

Marvin Gaye is being played by Sheldon Roden, who performed Gaye's songs during last summer's sold-out hit Motown 60s Revue, another Jacobs original production. A third-year member of the Troupe, this will be Roden's first lead role.

"When I watched Sheldon do Marvin Gaye's songs last summer, I was inspired," Jacobs continued. "He became Marvin and the reaction from the audience was phenomenal. He was a natural and I decided to create this piece for him."

Tickets for Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music are $25 and available online at www.wbttroupe.org or by calling 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

November 22, 2010

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will open its 2010-2011 season with the Tony-award winning musical "Ain't Misbehavin'." Opening night is Friday, December 17th and runs through Sunday, January 16th. Set in 1929 during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, this play features the music of Fats Waller, a jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer who toured and performed in the United Kingdom as well as extensively in the US.  The play opened on Broadway in 1978 and won many Tony awards including best musical, best featured actress in a musical, best choreography and best direction.

"We could not be more pleased to be opening our first season in our new home with this wonderful musical production," remarked Nate Jacobs, artistic director. "This was the second play done by the Troupe in our opening 1999 season so it's one that we hold very dear to our hearts. Our new production features remarkable talent with an accomplished director, a guest artist also serving as assistant choreographer and a musical director who worked with us in 1999 AND with the Broadway show. That combined with the talent of our Troupe members and we are expecting another huge hit."

Directing the show will be Harry Bryce, director, choreographer, writer and arts educator. This will be his fourth show with the Troupe, having directed Sophisticated Ladies in 2005, Dreamgirls in 2006 and The Hot Mikado in 2008. Bryce is an award-winning director and choreographer. He founded the Memphis Black Repertory Theatre where he served as their producing artistic director for five seasons, producing 21 productions that garnered him 17 theater awards. In 2000, Mr. Bryce was the recipient of the Carter G. Woodson Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievements in Performing Arts.

"Having moved to Sarasota last year, I am very excited to be working with Nate and WBTT again," commented Bryce. "I've directed Ain't Misbehavin' six or more times in various locations around the country and it's a show I really enjoy. It's a nostalgic piece that tells a slice of life story set in Harlem during the pinnacle of its renaissance. It's also a celebration of Fats Waller's at a time when African American artists of all disciplines were coming into their own and being recognized for their artistic contributions as poets, playwrights and jazz musicians. Ain't Misbehavin' is an important play as well as a very fun night in the theater."

Along with Bryce, will be LaTerry Butler as musical director. Butler has toured extensively, both nationally and internationally, with the Broadway Musical Ain't Misbehavin'. Other show credits include The Wiz, Showboat, West Side Story, Dream Girls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Purlie, Eubie, Five Guys Named Moe, All Night Strut, Crowns, and the New York world premier of Hi-Hat Hattie. Butler and his wife Tammy are Sarasota residents.

Donald Frison returns as the guest artist and assistant choreographer. Frison is here from Memphis and will also have a role in Five Guys Named Moe, later on in the season. Many might remember him from previous WBTT productions, including Sophisticated Ladies. Troupe members Leon Pitts, Whitney Johnson, Jnana (Wilson) Cherie and Ariel Blue round out this exciting and talented cast.

"We are already looking forward to opening night," Jacobs continued. "Having so much talent associated with our opening season in the new theater is awesome. We can't wait to welcome our audiences as they enjoy the talent that they have come to expect from Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe."

To find out more about WBTT or to reserve your tickets go online www.WBTTroupe.org or call 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2010

(SARASOTA)  The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) invites the public to swing and sway at their pre-season party, Harlem Nights 2, on Wednesday, November 10 or Thursday, November 11, 2010 at Michael's on East, 6:00 p.m. The event has been expanded to two nights because many people expressed disappointment last year that they could not get tickets. Attendees will have their choice of evenings, which will offer the same "by the bite" buffet, entertainment by WBTT cast members and silent and live auctions. Cost is $100 per person.

According to event co-chairs, Eleanor Merritt Darlington and Mary Ann Robinson, "This party kicks off the season of fun at WBTT. To our knowledge this is the first time any group has held an event twice. We wanted to come up with a way to spotlight the Troupe's talent and still keep the intimacy and energy that we are becoming known for at our performances. Limiting the seating and offering the event two nights in a row seemed like the perfect solution."

The public will enjoy good food and finger-snapping, toe-tapping entertainment by the talented Troupe. Last year was the first time WBTT held a large fund-raising event and it quickly sold out. Because of the run-away popularity of this event the first year, reservations will be filled on a first come, first served basis for the two nights. It is recommended that people make their reservations as soon as possible to be assured of their first choice of night. Committee members include Carol Poteat Buchanan, Audrey Coleman, Christine Jennings, Carolyn Michel, Debbie Partridge, Corene Richardson and event coordinator Janet Hunter.

For more information about Harlem Nights 2, or to place a reservation, contact event coordinator, Janet Hunter at 941-371-7698 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..