Third show in the first season of the new Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) theater opens with the popular Five Guys Named Moe, and runs until Sunday, April 3rd. The Clarke Peters musical features the music of Louis Jordan, who was ranked fifth in the list of all-time most successful black recording artists according to Billboard Magazine and, in 2004, ranked 59th on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. It is the second time the Troupe has performed the show; the first production selling out most performances.

"Five Guys Named Moe was a perfect choice for our company," remarked Nate Jacobs, Founder and Artistic Director of WBTT. "It's got great energy, terrific songs and fast-moving choreography with high-spirited, fun, audience participation. With Harry Bryce in town to direct the actors and LaTerry Butler to direct the musicians, I don't see how we can miss."

The cast of Five Guys Named Moe features actors long associated with the Troupe, one enjoying his first season, as well as three guest artists. Leon S. Pitts II will be a familiar face to frequent audience members as he has been on stage almost every season. Porter L. Anderson III is another long-time Troupe member. Mikeyy Mendez is performing in his first season with WBTT, while studying music at a local university.

Guest artists include performers Earley Dean from Seattle, D. William Hughes of New York and Donald Frison, from Memphis, who appeared in this season's Ain't Misbehavin'.

Director of the show is Harry Bryce, who directed Ain't Misbehavin,' this year's season opener. Bryce has had and continues to have an impressive career, with over thirty years experience as a director, choreographer, writer, and arts educator. He founded the Memphis Black Repertory Theatre (MBRT) and served as its producing artistic director for five seasons. He produced and directed twenty-one productions for MBRT including Five Guys Named Moe. Under his direction, MBRT garnered seventeen theatre awards.

Five Guys Named Moe originated in London in 1990 at the Theatre Royal Stratford and ran for more than four years in another theater in the city's West End. The show premiered on Broadway in April 1992 and enjoyed a 445-performance success. The musical was nominated for several Tony awards and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Best Choreography.

The story features a guy named Nomax, whose girlfriend has left him and who is without money. He finds Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe, and Little Moe emerging from his 1930s-style radio to comfort him. They sing the hit songs of songwriter and saxophonist Louis Jordan, whose new slant on jazz paved the way for rock and roll in the 1950s.

"Five Guys Named Moe is a fun, fast-moving musical," Jacobs continued. "Once again, WBTT expects to have audiences dancing in the their seats as they enjoy a talented cast presenting this wonderful production of a timeless musical play."

To order tickets or know more about WBTT, go to the website or call 941-366-1505.

SARASOTA: Howard J. Millman, president of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's board of trustees, is pleased to announce two new board members: Michael James Gardiner and Alan P. Kurland.

"For nearly two years, Michael Gardiner has committed resources and time to the marketing of WBTT. His generosity has proved invaluable," states Millman. "Alan Kurland has been a successful entrepreneur who also knows the artistic and business side of running a theater. These two gentlemen bring an expertise to the board that will greatly enhance our efforts."

Michael Gardiner comes to the board with vast experience in marketing and sales in the travel and hospitality industries. He held executive positions in Diners Club International, Resorts Condominiums International and Hertz Rent A Car, where he was the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Avid theater buffs, Michael and his wife Karen divide their time between Los Angeles and Sarasota.

Alan P. Kurland has lived in Sarasota and Maryland since 2001. His first professional job was as Artistic Director of the Theatre of Savannah. He served as an overseas Army Combat Correspondent. When Kurland returned home, he became a residential home builder/developer in the Washington, D.C. area, Florida and California. He also founded a software retail company. Prior to joining WBTT, Kurland was vice-president and treasurer of the Asolo Repertory Company Board.

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was founded in December 1999, by local actor, singer, director and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the first and only professional black theater company on Florida's West Coast.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) will open Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music, on Friday, January 28 in its new theater at 1646 10th Way, in Sarasota. The musical play is an original production, written and directed by WBTT Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. It will run for just over three weeks, through Sunday, February 20.

"I am a personal fan of Marvin Gaye's music," Jacobs explained.  "He has influenced my own singing career.  My mother was a devoted fan and introduced me to his music as a kid.  I felt it would be wonderful to celebrate this artist's contribution to American music, especially as we enter February and honor Black History Month."

Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music showcases the music that Marvin Gaye fans have come to love and respect. The story shares important facts about Marvin Gaye's life and achievement. It begins in the late 50s before his early days at Motown and continues through the end of his solo career, which ended at the time of his untimely and tragic death in the mid 80s. The show plays on a simple stage set with an ensemble cast of eight, talented, Troupe members, all actors and singers, who are accompanied by a live four-piece band.

Marvin Gaye is being played by Sheldon Roden, who performed Gaye's songs during last summer's sold-out hit Motown 60s Revue, another Jacobs original production. A third-year member of the Troupe, this will be Roden's first lead role.

"When I watched Sheldon do Marvin Gaye's songs last summer, I was inspired," Jacobs continued. "He became Marvin and the reaction from the audience was phenomenal. He was a natural and I decided to create this piece for him."

Tickets for Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music are $25 and available online at or by calling 941-366-1505.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will open its 2010-2011 season with the Tony-award winning musical "Ain't Misbehavin'." Opening night is Friday, December 17th and runs through Sunday, January 16th. Set in 1929 during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, this play features the music of Fats Waller, a jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer who toured and performed in the United Kingdom as well as extensively in the US.  The play opened on Broadway in 1978 and won many Tony awards including best musical, best featured actress in a musical, best choreography and best direction.

"We could not be more pleased to be opening our first season in our new home with this wonderful musical production," remarked Nate Jacobs, artistic director. "This was the second play done by the Troupe in our opening 1999 season so it's one that we hold very dear to our hearts. Our new production features remarkable talent with an accomplished director, a guest artist also serving as assistant choreographer and a musical director who worked with us in 1999 AND with the Broadway show. That combined with the talent of our Troupe members and we are expecting another huge hit."

Directing the show will be Harry Bryce, director, choreographer, writer and arts educator. This will be his fourth show with the Troupe, having directed Sophisticated Ladies in 2005, Dreamgirls in 2006 and The Hot Mikado in 2008. Bryce is an award-winning director and choreographer. He founded the Memphis Black Repertory Theatre where he served as their producing artistic director for five seasons, producing 21 productions that garnered him 17 theater awards. In 2000, Mr. Bryce was the recipient of the Carter G. Woodson Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievements in Performing Arts.

"Having moved to Sarasota last year, I am very excited to be working with Nate and WBTT again," commented Bryce. "I've directed Ain't Misbehavin' six or more times in various locations around the country and it's a show I really enjoy. It's a nostalgic piece that tells a slice of life story set in Harlem during the pinnacle of its renaissance. It's also a celebration of Fats Waller's at a time when African American artists of all disciplines were coming into their own and being recognized for their artistic contributions as poets, playwrights and jazz musicians. Ain't Misbehavin' is an important play as well as a very fun night in the theater."

Along with Bryce, will be LaTerry Butler as musical director. Butler has toured extensively, both nationally and internationally, with the Broadway Musical Ain't Misbehavin'. Other show credits include The Wiz, Showboat, West Side Story, Dream Girls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Purlie, Eubie, Five Guys Named Moe, All Night Strut, Crowns, and the New York world premier of Hi-Hat Hattie. Butler and his wife Tammy are Sarasota residents.

Donald Frison returns as the guest artist and assistant choreographer. Frison is here from Memphis and will also have a role in Five Guys Named Moe, later on in the season. Many might remember him from previous WBTT productions, including Sophisticated Ladies. Troupe members Leon Pitts, Whitney Johnson, Jnana (Wilson) Cherie and Ariel Blue round out this exciting and talented cast.

"We are already looking forward to opening night," Jacobs continued. "Having so much talent associated with our opening season in the new theater is awesome. We can't wait to welcome our audiences as they enjoy the talent that they have come to expect from Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe."

To find out more about WBTT or to reserve your tickets go online or call 941-366-1505.

(SARASOTA)  The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) invites the public to swing and sway at their pre-season party, Harlem Nights 2, on Wednesday, November 10 or Thursday, November 11, 2010 at Michael's on East, 6:00 p.m. The event has been expanded to two nights because many people expressed disappointment last year that they could not get tickets. Attendees will have their choice of evenings, which will offer the same "by the bite" buffet, entertainment by WBTT cast members and silent and live auctions. Cost is $100 per person.

According to event co-chairs, Eleanor Merritt Darlington and Mary Ann Robinson, "This party kicks off the season of fun at WBTT. To our knowledge this is the first time any group has held an event twice. We wanted to come up with a way to spotlight the Troupe's talent and still keep the intimacy and energy that we are becoming known for at our performances. Limiting the seating and offering the event two nights in a row seemed like the perfect solution."

The public will enjoy good food and finger-snapping, toe-tapping entertainment by the talented Troupe. Last year was the first time WBTT held a large fund-raising event and it quickly sold out. Because of the run-away popularity of this event the first year, reservations will be filled on a first come, first served basis for the two nights. It is recommended that people make their reservations as soon as possible to be assured of their first choice of night. Committee members include Carol Poteat Buchanan, Audrey Coleman, Christine Jennings, Carolyn Michel, Debbie Partridge, Corene Richardson and event coordinator Janet Hunter.

For more information about Harlem Nights 2, or to place a reservation, contact event coordinator, Janet Hunter at 941-371-7698 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to announce that its second summer production, Sistas In the Name of Soul, will be opening on Thursday evening, August 19 and run through Sunday, August 22. Performances will be in the new WBTT theatre, behind the Binz building at 10th and Orange Avenue in Sarasota. The show will have five performances, three evenings Thursday thru Saturday at 8:00 pm and two matinees, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 and are available online or by calling 941-366-1505.

"What a great kickoff this summer season has been to us," remarked Nate Jacobs, founding artist director. "We wanted to try out our new home with two musical revues that have been big hits in the past. Our July Motown 60s Revue sold out every seat at every performance. We are expecting no less from Sistas, which was a sellout hit two years ago as part of the 2008 season. All we can say is get your tickets now while they are still available. It's a very exciting time, more than any of us could have anticipated."

Sistas in the Name of Soul is a celebration of female artists who sang Rhythm and Blues and Soul music in the 70s. Hits by Freda Payne, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and The Pointer Sisters are among the lineup of songs that

will be performed. Favorites will include "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Respect," "Band of Gold" and WBTT's 2010-2011 theme "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."

The cast includes the four Troupe members who performed the original piece in 2008. Tsadok Porter, Whitney Reshard, Nisi Weaver and Jnana Wilson are all well-known to fans of WBTT. Audience members will recognize Porter, Weaver and Wilson from among the women who participated in the wildly popular Motown last month.

"The talent and enthusiasm of the cast is infectious," Jacobs continued. "Sistas In the Name of Soul promises to be the same high energy production as the Motown 60s Revue. The audiences can expect more of the same fun that they have experienced before at WBTT. AND we have as much fun performing as the audience does dancing in their seats."

Sistas in the Name of Soul will be the final summer show for WBTT until they open for the season on Dec. 15. Subscriber tickets are available now and include four shows, Ain't Misbehavin' Dec. 15-Jan. 16; Marvin Gaye, The Prince of Soul Jan. 26-Feb. 20; Mahalia, Just As I Am Mar. 9-Apr. 3; and Hi De, Hi De Ho!, Cab Calloway Apr. 20-May 15. Subscriptions cost $65 for four shows, a savings of about 33%. Single seats will cost $25 each and will not be available until later this year. For more information, call the WBTT office at 941-366-1505.

SARASOTA . . . The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announces their eleventh winter season of plays, all of which will be performed in their new home, 1012 North Orange Avenue, Sarasota (Behind the BINZ building at 10th Street and Orange). The number of plays has been expanded to four and the total number of performances has increased from 36 to 112. Season subscriptions can be purchased by calling 941.366.1595 or online at Subscriptions can cost as low as $39 for four shows on preview nights to $65 for four regular-run performances. Single tickets will go on sale October 1, 2010, and will be $25 each.

Opening December 15, 2010 and running through January 16, 2011 is a revival of the Troupe's highly popular rendition of Ain't Misbehavin'. The outrageously comic and musical soul of 1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking, swinging, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway's best. The inimitable Thomas ""Fats"" Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club, honky tonk dives along Lenox Avenue, rent parties, stride piano players and that jumpin' new beat, Swing. Although not quite a biography, Ain't Misbehavin' evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as a versatile cast struts, strums and sings the songs he made famous.

The second play is a world premiere titled Marvin Gaye, "The Prince of Soul" - The Man and His Music, which will run January 26 to February 20, 2011. Written by Nate Jacobs, the Troupe's artistic director, this is an original musical celebrating the extraordinary life and music of singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye. The show begins in the 1950s at the start of Gaye's career with Motown and follows its twists and turns until his untimely death in the mid-80s. A gifted, innovative and enduring talent, Gaye blazed the trail for the continued evolution of popular black music from the powerful R&B to sophisticated soul to an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression. Rolling Stone declared Gaye one of America's greatest entertainers.

From March 9 to April 3, 2011, the Troupe presents the talented, local entertainer Sharon Scott in a play she also wrote, Mahalia, Just As I Am. The entertaining show tells the life of Mahalia Jackson, an African-American gospel singer, and features some of her greatest hits. With her powerful contralto voice, Mahalia became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was considered the first "Queen of Gospel Music." She recorded nearly 35 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"/million-sellers.

The final show will be another world premiere, Hi De, Hi De  Ho!, Cab Calloway. It is a one-person show starring Nate Jacobs, which will run April 20, 2011 - May 15, 2011. Local playwright Larry Parr and actor/singer Nate Jacobs pair up to present a portrait of the legendary fireball of talent, Cab Calloway. Audiences will laugh and cry, sing and sway with Nate as he portrays the charismatic, award-winning singer, bandleader, actor and inventor of the "moonwalk" (fifty years before Michael Jackson). Larry Parr's plays, Hi-Hat Hattie and My Castle's Rockin' have enthralled audiences in regional theaters throughout the country and this world premiere play with music promises to be as electrifying.