Arts organization's major gala to feature Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, TV star and recording artist Melba Moore

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will present its major annual gala, this year titled "Broadway Under the Stars," on Thursday, November 19, 6-10pm at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium (801 N. Tamiami Tr., Sarasota). Featured guest at the event will be the Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, TV star and recording artist Melba Moore, who was inducted into The Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame Museum in Detroit on October 4.

Guests will enjoy a delicious dinner and open bar, Moore and the Troupe will perform, and there will be dancing to the WBTT band. During the event, Moore – who has come to Sarasota twice before to support WBTT – will be presented with the "WBTT Spotlight Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement," and longtime supporters Gerri Aaron and Marvin Albert will receive the "WBTT Spotlight Award for Heart and Soul Philanthropy," recognizing their financial support and leadership service to the organization.

"Our 15th Anniversary Gala last year marked a major milestone and was a tremendous success," said executive director Julie Leach. "We wanted to bring someone to our celebration this year who would continue the excitement by both inspiring and entertaining our guests. With Melba Moore's career highlights and her induction just this month into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame Museum, she is certain to show our supporters the success available to African American artists if they just dare to dream, have an outlet for their creativity and work very, very hard."

Melba Moore is an American singer, actress and entertainer who made her Broadway debut in Hair – she was the first African-American woman to replace a white actress (Diane Keaton) in a lead role. In 1970 she starred in Purlie, which earned her a Tony Award. Another first came when she landed the female lead role on Broadway as Fantine in the acclaimed musical, Les Misérables. 

Following the success of Purlie, Moore landed two big-screen film roles, released two successful albums, I Got Love and Look What You're Doing to the Man, and co-starred with actor Clifton Davis in the then-couple's own successful variety television series in 1972. She has topped the charts with a number of hit songs and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards. Most recently, she starred with Beyoncé and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the motion picture The Fighting Temptations. Presently, she is working on an autobiography and is producing her forthcoming album, titled "Forever Moore."

"I can't think of a better way to celebrate our 'Sweet Sixteen' than to bring an artist of Melba Moore's stature to Sarasota as well as feature our own artists singing Broadway favorites," said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. "Melba shattered numerous glass ceilings on her way to becoming a world-renowned recording artist and actress. We invite the community to join us to celebrate this great legend and our 16th anniversary!"

Tickets are $200/person. Call WBTT at (941) 366-1505 for tickets or further information.

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.