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Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is announcing its summer season with two exciting musical plays being presented by accomplished and talented Troupe members. June 10th- 22nd, WBTT proudly presents Black Is the Color of My Voice, a one-woman show starring founding Troupe member Apphia Campbell, followed by WBTT’s hit show from 2011, Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul (new name) with Sheldon Roden returning in the title role.

The show will run July 16th-August 10th. Tickets for Black is the Color of My Voice are $21.50. Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul tickets sell for $29.50. Each can be purchased by calling the box office at 941-366-1505. Additionally, as part of the WBTT Voices programming, a free “welcome home” event to meet Apphia Campbell and hear about her theatrical career will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 8 at the WBTT Theater, 1646 10th Way in Sarasota.

“We are expecting a phenomenal summer with these two headliners,” remarked Nate Jacobs, founding Artistic Director. “Apphia is returning to Sarasota to present her show which has already had successful runs in Shanghai and New York City. New to many in our WBTT audiences, Apphia is one of our early success stories, who has gone on to perform and teach in China, as well as New York City. Sheldon, on the other hand, is a very familiar favorite, since his breakthrough role as Marvin in 2011. We are thrilled to be able to bring them both back, telling captivating stories of iconic African-American performers.”

Black is the Color of My Voice follows the life of Mena Bordeaux, a successful jazz singer seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. During a three-day period of isolation without cigarettes, alcohol, or access to the outside world, Mena reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. The play, written and performed by Apphia Campbell, is loosely inspired by the story of Nina Simone. The play was first performed at Play the Spotlight Theatre in Shanghai where Apphia is one of their most in-demand singers and dramatic actresses. There have been three successful runs in Shanghai and one last summer in New York. In addition, Play the Spotlight Theatre is currently working to take Black Is the Color of My Voice to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after its summer run in Sarasota.

Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul showcases 30 years of the life and music of Marvin Gaye, from the late 50s before his early days at Motown and continues through the end of his solo career, which ended with his untimely and tragic death in the mid 80s. The musical play was written by WBTT’s Nate Jacobs with Sheldon Roden in mind for the lead, after watching him perform some of Gaye’s songs during the 2010 summer run of the Motown 60s Revue. The inspiration turned into a trademark role for Roden. Not only did the 2011 portrayal prove to be a big hit with WBTT audiences, wherever and whenever Sheldon performs a Marvin Gaye song, as in last summer’s sold-out Soul Crooners at the National Black Theatre Festival, he receives great accolades as he seems to channel the amazing singer. The eight-member cast will include many of the original members who performed in 2011.

“Another hot summer in Sarasota at WBTT,” continued Jacobs, “and I mean that in the most complimentary way. Get your tickets now for this exciting double header.”

About WBTT: The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) 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.” Throughout the past decade, WBTT has produced many productions and has gained a reputation for high quality, thought-provoking and entertaining performances. Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the WBTT performing arts program have gone on to work with national and regional companies, including Apphia Campbell who most recently has been seen performing her one-woman show, Black is the Color of My Voice, in Shanghai and New York and Teresa Stanley who was a featured cast member on Broadway in The Color Purple andpresently stars in Rock of Ages. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at follow on Facebook or call 941-366-1505.