Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s annual spring fundraiser to feature tribute to Black country artists, delicious down-home dinner

SARASOTA, FL – For more than a decade, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe offered the lively and music-filled fundraiser, the April Fools Fête, in the ballroom at Michael’s On East. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the event was presented virtually and, in 2021, WBTT presented the event to a smaller crowd outdoors on its campus. This year, the popular arts organization is thrilled to be back at Michael’s On East for a country-themed celebration on April 4.

The event will serve up country vibes with a musical salute to Black artists in country music – performed by favorite WBTT artists and select Stage of Discovery students – a delicious down-home dinner, and boot-scootin’ on the dance floor. Proceeds support WBTT’s education programs.

“Our program theme is a tribute to our Ambassador Circle co-chair and former CEO Christine Jennings, who has long wanted us to do some country music,” said WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, who is directing the entertainment for the event and will perform. “We will salute Black country artists such as Darius Rucker and the late Charlie Pride as well as perform our take on country classics and pop country hits. We are having so much fun putting our soulful spin on this popular genre!”

WBTT artists performing during the event include Syreeta S. Banks, Ariel Blue, Tarra Conner jones, Michael Mendez, Leon S. Pitts II and Sheldon Rhoden; a number of Stage of Discovery students will be featured as well. The performers will be accompanied by WBTT’s sizzling live band, led by music director Etienne J. Porter.

"We could not be more excited to be back in-person with our supporters for our April Fools Fête this year," said WBTT's Executive Director Julie Leach. "While we are certainly better-known for our rhythm and blues and soul presentations, we are eager for our first tribute to the Black artists who have broken ground in the country music industry. We are confident our guests will enjoy our foray into this genre – flavored with WBTT’s indelible touch!”

WBTT’s education programs include: the WBTT Voices Community Forum, an ongoing series of free community forums about issues impacting society, explored through an African American lens; the Jazzlinks and Rhythm & Tales school outreach programs; Stage of Discovery summer musical theater program; and workshop opportunities. The organization is also deeply invested in mentoring and offering a stage for young, aspiring artists and playwrights of color.

Event co-chairs are Nancy Flanagan and Lois Wilkins. Major sponsors for the event include John and Kitty Cranor, Sy Goldblatt, the Brunckhorst Family, and the John J. Clopine Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

The event takes place in the Michael’s On East ballroom (1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota) on Monday, April 4 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $125; numerous sponsorships are available. For more information and tickets, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.