Initial offering of the season will feature Leon S. Pitts II in a tribute to James Brown

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce its second annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with one-night, one-person shows. The first show of this season, “Showtime with Leon Pitts,” takes place Monday, February 2 at 7:30pm and features Leon S. Pitts II. Join this WBTT company member as he explores his own theatrical career and humble beginnings. Additionally, audiences will also enjoy a tribute to the music of sizzling soul legend James Brown.

Future shows will feature Michael Mendez (March 2) and Christopher Eisenberg (March 30). All shows take place at the WBTT theater, located at 1646 Nate Jacobs Way in Sarasota. Tickets are $26.50 general admission; VIP tickets, which include reserved seating, are $101.50. Call the box office at (941) 366-1505 or purchase tickets online at

The organization designed the program to support, develop and showcase the talent of young, aspiring African-American artists. The Young Artist Program offers company members the opportunity to develop and present an original production. Artists who are interested must submit a proposal, which is reviewed by the organization’s professional and volunteer leadership. Once a proposal is approved, the performer works with artistic director Nate Jacobs to advise and assist him or her with developing and directing their presentation. All proceeds from the show are given to the presenting artist to be used for further artistic and professional development.

“This is just one way that our organization furthers its mission of developing young artists,” Jacobs said. “We feel strongly about investing in the performers who work with us in order to further their performance and career opportunities.”

Since its inception, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through participation in the company’s productions. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the organization’s performing arts program have gone on to work with regional and national companies. The company has provided a springboard for many national careers including Apphia Campbell and Teresa Stanley, a featured cast member on Broadway in The Color Purple who is presently starring in Rock of Ages. The two youngest company members, teenagers Christopher Eisenberg and Alyssa White, have achieved national acclaim: Christopher made it to the top 48 on “America’s Got Talent” and Alyssa was selected to perform in the Harlem Apollo Theater’s “Best of the Best” show in 2011. 

“What’s exciting about the Young Artist Program is that it gives artists who may have only experienced ensemble work to move into the spotlight,” said WBTT executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr. “A one-person show is rigorous for a performer at any level; after successfully executing a Young Artist performance, we expect our artists to be equipped with the tools they need to take their careers to the next level.”

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 is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at or call (941) 366-1505.