World premier musical revue will highlight the great women performers of the jazz era

SARASOTA, FL – Nearly two months before the show even opens, in response to blistering ticket sales, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has extended the run of its upcoming musical revue "Jazz Hot Mamas." In this show – a world premiere created by artistic director Nate Jacobs – the company salutes the great women performers of the jazz era such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Etta Jones, and Peggy Lee. These women rose to stardom, broke barriers and left a legacy few can match. Their phenomenal voices, style and grace won over audiences around the world.

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is partnering with the Bradenton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to benefit homeless and underprivileged children in Manatee and Sarasota counties through a “Toys for Tots” holiday toy drive. All new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls are welcome.

Through December 16, community members in Sarasota can drop off toys at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s theater (1646 10th Way, Sarasota) from 6:30-8:30pm Tuesdays-Saturdays, or from 12:30-2:00pm on Sundays. Call (941) 366-1505 for more information. In Manatee County, toys can be dropped off at various hours to the Family Heritage House Museum at State College of Florida (5840 26th Street W.); call (941) 752-5319 or (941) 677-2970 for more information.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is getting ready to kick off its 15th year as a performing Sarasota arts organization in a really big way! On Monday night, October 6th, beginning at 8:00 pm, WBTT will stage an evening of entertainment at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall that epitomizes who they are and what they do. The evening starts with a pre-show performed by some of the Troupe’s well-known artists. Following that is Sarasota’s first introduction to The Eve of Jackie, an original musical play about the life of Jackie Wilson, written and performed by an award-winning Broadway performer Chester Gregory.

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe performer Michael Mendez was recently awarded a John Ringling Tower Fund grant of $4,000 in the performing category, a major honor for the young artist. Mendez plans to use the grant to write and produce five original songs, and work on his one-man show celebrating the career and life of Harry Belafonte. The award, which also includes a residency at Sarasota’s Hermitage Artist Retreat – a not-for-profit artist community that attracts artists from all over the world – was given during the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County annual celebration and awards in October.

Mendez began his musical journey as a middle school student, singing an Usher song in front of his peers. The experience inspired his mother to enroll him in an arts program at the Manatee School for the Arts. At 15, he traveled to New York and was introduced to songwriting and recording by his uncle, an aspiring producer with his own studio. He performed several productions with the Manatee Players and then was introduced to Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs in 2011.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens its 2014-15 season with one of the of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time, Little Shop of Horrors. This charming and very funny musical is a spoof of the 1950s-era, B-movie, sci-fi flicks with a story that features an extraterrestrial plant with a man-eating appetite. The show opens on Friday, October 15th and will run thru Sunday, November 16th. Performances, at the WBTT Theater at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota, are Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm with a Sunday matinee at 2:00. Individual tickets cost $29.50 and may be purchased online at www.wbttsrq.org or by calling the box office, 941-366-1505.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 2014-15 season, “Love, Laughter and Legends” is ready to be announced. In addition to four wonderful shows, the schedule includes three Saturday matinees added for each show and a special holiday show being offered in addition to the regular season. Running from October to May, the regular season shows being presented include three musicals with one Nate Jacobs original production and one straight play. The shows are Little Shop of Horrors, Knock Me a Kiss, Jazz Hot Mamas and Spunk. The special holiday show is Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. Tickets are expected to go on sale later this spring, with an announcement on the WBTT website and Facebook page. Subscriptions will sell for $90 each for the four main season shows. Black Nativity tickets will be sold separately for $35 each; $15 for students with ID. Individual tickets will go on sale in the fall and will cost $29.50 each; $15 for students with ID.

Funds will enable national theater festival leader to enjoy
WBTT’s 15th anniversary celebration, Sarasota’s cultural offerings

(SARASOTA, FL – SEPT. 24, 2014) Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) received a grant of approximately $2,000 from Visit Sarasota County to fund the travels of National Black Theatre Festival director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin to Sarasota for WBTT’s 15th Anniversary Celebration on October 6.