For Immediate Release

August 9, 2010

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce that its second summer production, Sistas In the Name of Soul, will be opening on Thursday evening, August 19 and run through Sunday, August 22. Performances will be in the new WBTT theatre, behind the Binz building at 10th and Orange Avenue in Sarasota. The show will have five performances, three evenings Thursday thru Saturday at 8:00 pm and two matinees, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 and are available online or by calling 941-366-1505.

"What a great kickoff this summer season has been to us," remarked Nate Jacobs, founding artist director. "We wanted to try out our new home with two musical revues that have been big hits in the past. Our July Motown 60s Revue sold out every seat at every performance. We are expecting no less from Sistas, which was a sellout hit two years ago as part of the 2008 season. All we can say is get your tickets now while they are still available. It's a very exciting time, more than any of us could have anticipated."

Sistas in the Name of Soul is a celebration of female artists who sang Rhythm and Blues and Soul music in the 70s. Hits by Freda Payne, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and The Pointer Sisters are among the lineup of songs that

will be performed. Favorites will include "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Respect," "Band of Gold" and WBTT's 2010-2011 theme "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."

The cast includes the four Troupe members who performed the original piece in 2008. Tsadok Porter, Whitney Reshard, Nisi Weaver and Jnana Wilson are all well-known to fans of WBTT. Audience members will recognize Porter, Weaver and Wilson from among the women who participated in the wildly popular Motown last month.

"The talent and enthusiasm of the cast is infectious," Jacobs continued. "Sistas In the Name of Soul promises to be the same high energy production as the Motown 60s Revue. The audiences can expect more of the same fun that they have experienced before at WBTT. AND we have as much fun performing as the audience does dancing in their seats."

Sistas in the Name of Soul will be the final summer show for WBTT until they open for the season on Dec. 15. Subscriber tickets are available now and include four shows, Ain't Misbehavin' Dec. 15-Jan. 16; Marvin Gaye, The Prince of Soul Jan. 26-Feb. 20; Mahalia, Just As I Am Mar. 9-Apr. 3; and Hi De, Hi De Ho!, Cab Calloway Apr. 20-May 15. Subscriptions cost $65 for four shows, a savings of about 33%. Single seats will cost $25 each and will not be available until later this year. For more information, call the WBTT office at 941-366-1505.

For Immediate Release

June 30, 2010

SARASOTA . . . The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announces their eleventh winter season of plays, all of which will be performed in their new home, 1012 North Orange Avenue, Sarasota (Behind the BINZ building at 10th Street and Orange). The number of plays has been expanded to four and the total number of performances has increased from 36 to 112. Season subscriptions can be purchased by calling 941.366.1595 or online at wbttroupe.org. Subscriptions can cost as low as $39 for four shows on preview nights to $65 for four regular-run performances. Single tickets will go on sale October 1, 2010, and will be $25 each.

Opening December 15, 2010 and running through January 16, 2011 is a revival of the Troupe's highly popular rendition of Ain't Misbehavin'. The outrageously comic and musical soul of 1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking, swinging, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway's best. The inimitable Thomas ""Fats"" Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin' new beat, Swing. Although not quite a biography, Ain't Misbehavin' evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as a versatile cast struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous.

The second play is a world premiere titled Marvin Gaye, "The Prince of Soul" - The Man and His Music, which will run January 26 to February 20, 2011. Written by Nate Jacobs, the Troupe's artistic director, this is an original musical celebrating the extraordinary life and music of singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye. The show begins in the 1950s at the start of Gaye's career with Motown and follows its twists and turns until his untimely death in the mid-80s. A gifted, innovative and enduring talent, Gaye blazed the trail for the continued evolution of popular black music from the powerful R&B to sophisticated soul to an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression. Rolling Stone declared Gaye one of America's greatest entertainers.

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From March 9 to April 3, 2011, the Troupe presents the talented, local entertainer Sharon Scott in a play she also wrote, Mahalia, Just As I Am. The entertaining show tells the life of Mahalia Jackson, an African-American gospel singer, and features some of her greatest hits. With her powerful contralto voice, Mahalia became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was considered the first "Queen of Gospel Music." She recorded nearly 35 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"/million-sellers.

The final show will be another world premiere, Hi De, Hi De  Ho!, Cab Calloway. It is a one-person show starring Nate Jacobs, which will run April 20, 2011 - May 15, 2011. Local playwright Larry Parr and actor/singer Nate Jacobs pair up to present a portrait of the legendary fireball of talent, Cab Calloway. Audiences will laugh and cry, sing and sway with Nate as he portrays the charismatic, award-winning singer, bandleader, actor and inventor of the "moonwalk" (fifty years before Michael Jackson). Larry Parr's plays, Hi-Hat Hattie and My Castle's Rockin' have enthralled audiences in regional theaters throughout the country and this world premiere play with music promises to be as electrifying.

For Immediate Release

June 23, 2010

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) announces that it has signed a lease for its own home at 1012 North Orange Avenue, Sarasota (behind the BINZ building at 10th and Orange). The new location gives the Troupe a bigger space to perform in, and will also allow them to expand the season with more scheduled shows. This will be the first time in its 10-year history that WBTT has had a performance space that was solely dedicated to its needs.

"An opportunity presented itself and we took it," commented Christine Jennings, executive director of WBTT. "It's perfect; a great location that's easily accessible with ample parking. WBTT is in a growth mode so the timing could not be better. We are very excited."

The new location includes a fully air-conditioned 6,500 SF space for a black box theater, dressing rooms, rehearsal space, rest rooms and a lobby concession stand. Plans are to create a stage surrounded by ¾ tiered seating in the round.

"It's been a privilege working with the board of directors," commented property owner Jim Robison,  "as well as the staff of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe to create a venue that is deserving of the incredible, explosive talents of one of Florida's finest theatre groups. I am honored to be involved with such a dedicated group of artists."

Audiences can expect the same intimate and up close experience enjoyed at previous venues. With WBTT as the sole user of the space, the Troupe will be able to almost double the number of performances from four to seven a week. The new calendar will offer two preview nights before each show's opening night. A regular weekly schedule will include five evening performances Tuesday through Saturday and two weekend matinees.

"There is lots of work to be done before we open for the season," remarked Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director, "but I feel like we're getting closer and closer to having the WBTT vision fulfilled. We'll perform two summer musical revues in the new location with a grand opening later this year."

The first performances in the new home are being called The Summer Sizzle of Soul. Because of last season's sold out success, The Motown 60s Revue will run July 22-25. Following that, August 19-22 features another favorite, Sistas in the Name of Soul. Each will have five performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling 941-366-1505.

"We had a tremendous 10th anniversary year," Jacobs continued, "and we've got lots of exciting plans for year 11 with our own theater to perform in. I have never been more enthused about WBTT's future."

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 featured cast member of The Color Purple and Dream Girls on Broadway and the national tour of Rock of Ages.

For Immediate Release

April 16, 2010

(SARASOTA)  The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) ends their 10th anniversary season with a production of the highly-acclaimed Jar The Floor, a combustible comedy-drama about four generations of African-American women from one family. The play presents a vivid portrait of the evolving interaction between mothers and daughters and touches on a number of profound subjects with sensitivity, seriousness, and a great deal of humor.

The four women plus the youngest daughter's friend, who is white, come together to celebrate the matriarch's 90th birthday. It turns into an occasion for venting about life through snide remarks and comic relief, rather than one of candles and cake.

According to the director Van Huff,  "Jar the Floor has been one of the most popular plays to be done in regional theaters during the last ten years. As a man directing this play, I felt like I was eavesdropping on the real discussions women have when men aren't around. The play communicates through the voices of women, but this peek into one family's life is relevant to everyone. Many of the issues discussed are universal, ranging from everyday conflicts to startling situations. The conversations are rich, emotional, truthful and at the same time, very funny."

The talented, all-female cast includes Tammy Elaine as the 90-year-old matriarch. Her daughter Lola is played by Paula Farlin, who has appeared in past WBTT productions, including A Raisin in the Sun.  Alice M. Gatling plays MayDee, the granddaughter. Audiences will recognize Alice from her recent performance in Ruined. The two youngest characters in the play are Vennie, the great granddaughter, performed by Jaszy McAllister and her friend Raisa, portrayed by Amanda Schlachter.

Jar the Floor has one preview performance on Wednesday, April 21st. Opening night is Friday, April 23, 2010, and runs through May 9th.  All shows are held at the Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, next to the Municipal Auditorium. The scheduled times are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 P.M. and Sunday matinees at 2:00 P.M.  The calendar can be found on the Troupe's website, www.wbttroupe.org. Individual tickets are $20 a piece and are available by calling the office at 941-366-1505.

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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. 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.

For Immediate Release

March 15, 2010

(SARASOTA)  The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) presents a world premiere production, The Magnificent Music of the '40s, which features a musical review of the hit songs of that decade. Originally named The Magnificent Mills Brothers, the production will incorporate many of this group's songs since they were one of the most successful African American groups of all times.

The music of the 1940s reflected the feeling of a nation at war while still remaining positive about the country's future. In the beginning of the decade, music was built around jazz and big band styles. Be-Bop and Rhythm and Blues were popular. Radio programs provided much of the entertainment and people gravitated to the more lively and upbeat music presented to keep their minds off the news.

According to Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director of WBTT and creator of The Magnificent Music of the '40s, "During the 1940s many breakthrough artists, such as the Mills Brothers, made their mark as innovators. Their style was fun to listen to and challenging to perform. The WBTT has mastered this sound and will take you on a journey through the magnificent songs of the decade."

Audiences will recognize some of their favorite WBTT members in this five-man cast, including Jeffrey Atkins, Leon Pitts, Sheldon Rhoden, Dean Wilson and Nate Jacobs.

The Magnificent '40s opens Friday, March 19, 2010 and runs through April 4th.  All shows are held at the Art Center Sarasota, next to the Municipal Auditorium. The scheduled times are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 P.M. and Sunday matinees at 2:00 P.M.  The calendar can be found on the Troupe's website, www.wbttroupe.org. Individual tickets are $20 a piece and are available by calling the office at 941-366-1505.

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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. 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.

For Immediate Release

January 22, 2010

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) opens its tenth anniversary season with a toe-tapping, dancing-in-your-seat musical revue of the 1960s, featuring songs from Motown, the music that brought young black singers into the mainstream and changed the face of contemporary American music. Nate Jacobs is the Troupe's founder and created The Motown 60s Revue.

"As west coast Florida's only professional black theater company we felt this was an important and exciting revue for us to present to the community," explained Jacobs. "Like many of the original Motown artists, WBTT's performers are young, energetic and talented. This is their springboard for a theatrical career if they choose."

The Motown 60s Revue opened Friday, January 22, 2010. The show runs through February 7th. All shows are held at the Art Center Sarasota, next to the Municipal Auditorium. Show times can be found on the website, www.wbttroupe.org. That is also where one can purchase season tickets at $45 for three shows. Individual tickets are $20 a piece and are available by calling the office at 941-366-1505.

"Season tickets have been selling very well," Jacobs continued. "Our tenth season is on the way to being a huge success."

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 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.

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.