Evening cabaret-style performances will feature a live band and popular WBTT artists

SARASOTA, FL – While its freshly renovated theater remains empty due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is determined to keep its artists working and the community entertained safely. The arts organization will present an open-air concert series – starting Friday, October 9 – featuring a live band led by Resident Music Director (and bass player) James “Jay” Dodge II, accompanying a variety of popular WBTT artists, in WBTT's newly created safe, outdoor seating area.

Joining Dodge in this first concert of the series will be Todd Bellamy, piano, Jamar Camp, auxiliary keys, Brad Foutch, guitar, and Etienne “EJ” Porter, drums. Raleigh Mosely, Henry Washington and more of WBTT's favorite singers will belt out soul hits of the 1970s. Selections will include "Superstition," "Let's Get It On," I Want You Back," "Brick House," "September" and many, many more.

"I decided to begin our open-air series with what WBTT does best!" said Nate Jacobs, WBTT’s Founder/Artistic Director. "I feel the music of the '70s is the perfect choice to lift the hearts and spirits of our patrons during a time when we all could all use some inspiration."

The artists will perform under the awning along the west side of the theater building, while patrons watch from the closest areas of the parking lot. Small tables within painted 6-foot circles – to ensure safe distancing – will accommodate one or two guests at each. Tickets will be sold in two-week increments to accommodate exchanges for inclement weather. Tickets must be purchased online by noon the day of the performance; there will be no door sales. There will be temperature checks at the gate and masks will be required unless patrons are actively eating or drinking; no food or drink may be brought in with patrons. Concessions, beer, wine and light snacks will be served prior to the start of the show table side to avoid patrons waiting in line.

“Our artists are longing to perform!" said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. "While the current COVID-19 situation across the country has impacted our ability to present on-stage Equity shows to open our performance season, we are pleased to offer a high-energy, convenient and safe option for community members who are looking for some outdoor entertainment. This model should get us through the pandemic, until a time when we can return to productions INSIDE our beautiful theater building."

Future offerings will be announced as plans are firmed up. Under consideration is a holiday concert, should WBTT be unable to perform "Black Nativity” as previously planned.

This leg of the concert series runs Tuesdays through Sundays, October 9 through November 22; show time is 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $40/adults, $20/students and active military. Go to westcoastblacktheatre.org or call the Box Office at 941-366-1505.