Second offering of the season will feature Victoria Byrd paying tribute to her early influences

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is proud to present the second installment of its fourth annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with one-night, one-person shows. The second show of this season, “When I Think of Home …” features WBTT artist Victoria Byrd and takes place Monday, January 2, 2017 at 7:30pm. Byrd will take the audience along on her journey through the different music genres that have influenced her as a performing artist, from her early days studying opera, to songs from The Great American Songbook, to musical theatre favorites.

Byrd has performed with WBTT in Harry and Lena and this summer’s production of How I Got Over: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, as well as at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in West Side Story (Marguerita). Previous roles include: The Wiz (Dorothy), Once On This Island (Ti Moune), Hairspray (Little Inez), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia), and Trojan Women (Helen). Byrd, a graduate of Booker High School’s Visual & Performing Arts Program, is a freshman at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre. All proceeds from this performance will help to fund her college education.

The final Young Artist Program showcase of the season will feature Michael Mendez on March 20. All shows take place at the WBTT theater, located at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota. Tickets are $25 general admission; VIP tickets, which include reserved preferred seating, are $100. Call the box office at (941) 366-1505 or purchase tickets online at

WBTT designed the Young Artist 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.

“There are so many talented young artists in this community who would, without WBTT, have little or no opportunity to hone their craft,” Jacobs said. “We can offer these performers so much more than just a stage and roles to play in our productions – through instruction in the various elements of the theatre and the mentorship of myself and other seasoned professionals, we can help those who aspire to a career in the performing arts to further their career prospects.”

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. Just last month, one of its youngest performers, Christopher Eisenberg, was signed by Sony/ATV as part of a pop group. 

“The most satisfying aspect of my job is seeing talented young artists develop their skills and achieve professional success,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “Our goal for the Young Artist Program is to provide performers with rigorous, individualized training and mentorship, and give them the tools and skills they need to achieve their dreams.” 

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.