Popular WBTT artist Michael Mendez to sing, dance and offer special surprises in ‘My Paradigm Shift’

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to continue its fourth annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with one-night, one-person shows. The third and final Young Artist performances of this season, “My Paradigm Shift,” feature popular WBTT artist Michael Mendez and take place Monday, March 20 and Monday, April 3 at 7:30pm. Join Mendez for an entertaining evening celebrating his discovery of purpose and vision for his life and career. The show features music, dance, and special surprises showcasing this multi-talented artist who local audiences have grown to love.

Young Artist Program 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 westcoastblacktheatre.org

Michael Mendez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, is now a Sarasota resident. He is in his seventh season with WBTT. Mendez has earned rave reviews for his impressive work in Five Guys Named Moe, Love Sung in the Key of Aretha, Blackbird: The Story of Josephine Baker, The Fabulous 5, Soul Crooners, and ’50s Jukebox Revue. He starred as Harry Belafonte in the Troupe’s 2014 hit, Harry and Lena, was Seymour in the 2015 blockbuster Little Shop of Horrors and, this season, has performed as The Wiz in The Wiz and as Lymon in The Piano Lesson. In 2014, Michael was awarded a prestigious John Ringling Tower Fund grant in the performing arts category by the Arts & Cultural Alliance during its annual celebration and awards that year. This is his second Young Artist showcase; he previously performed “I Love Music” in 2015.

The organization 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. 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,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs, who offers the young artists advice and assistance in developing and directing their presentations. “Performing in an ensemble production is very different than creating and presenting a solo performance. This program highlights our commitment to investing in the artists 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. Late last year, one of its youngest performers, Christopher Eisenberg, was signed by Sony/ATV as part of a pop group. 

“While WBTT artists receive significant mentoring and training over the course of a season, the Young Artist Program gives artists who may have only experienced ensemble work the opportunity to move into the spotlight,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “While Nate is available for assistance, these artists are responsible for writing their own script, the song choices, costumes, choreography, promotions … the whole works. This is a rigorous effort but one that helps to equip our artists with the tools they need to take their careers to the next level.”

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc., is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on Westcoast Black Theatre, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.