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WBTT 2022-2023 Season Brochure

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Michael Mejia Mendez and Derric Gobourne Jr in Broadway in Black 2022 Photo by Sorcha Augustine 2022 2023

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SAVE THE DATES DR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR Celebrating His Legacy in Spoken Word and Song MONDAY JAN 16 2023 7 30 PM SARASOTA OPERA HOUSE 61 N PINEAPPLE AVE SARASOTA A CONCERT BY KEY CHORALE AND WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE MONDAY MAY 8 2023 7 30 PM VAN WEZEL PERFORMING ARTS HALL 777 N TAMIAMI TRAIL SARASOTA SIGN UP FOR OUR EMAIL UPDATES AT WESTCOASTBLACKTHEATRE ORG WELCOME TO OUR 2022 2023 SEASON AMERICAN DREAMS In our 23rd season we explore the struggles and triumphs of women and men who sought to realize their own version of the American Dream Our first show Guys and Dolls is a true classic of American musical theatre and we ll present it with our own special WBTT twist Langston Hughes Black Nativity is our Christmas card to the community this season Every time we present it we and our patrons discover new things about this spiritually rich and musically moving experience Pearl Cleage s Flyin West takes us back to the 1890s for an unforgettable story about brave strong African American women pioneers who left the oppressive South to claim and tame their own piece of the American frontier Dreamgirls is a musical about women dreaming big working hard and singing their way into the heart and soul of America Big Sexy The Fats Waller Revue brings the one and only singer comedian to large life on our stage We re excited to present this world premiere show that not only showcases the music of the man who brought us Ain t Misbehavin but also shines a spotlight on the man himself From musical comedy to thoughtprovoking drama our 2022 2023 American Dreams season promises to make you smile think and maybe even dance in your seat Don t miss a moment of it NATE JACOBS Founder and Artistic Director PHOTO EVAN SIGMUND

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O ne of the most produced musicals in history Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 1 200 performances winning five Tony Awards including Best Musical The guys included Robert Alda father of MASH TV star Alan Alda as Sky Masterson and Sam Levene as Nathan Detroit the dolls were Vivian Blaine as Adelaide and Isabel Bigley as Sarah A Musical Fable of Broadway OCT 5 NOV 20 2022 MUSIC AND LYRICS BY FRANK LOESSER BOOK BY JO SWERLING AND ABE BURROWS BASED ON A STORY AND CHARACTERS BY DAMON RUNYON DIRECTED BY JIM WEAVER Presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International MTI Since its original run it has become a staple of American musical comedy staged in Broadway revivals by regional companies community theatres and schools A movie version in 1955 starred Frank Sinatra as Nathan and Marlon Brando as Sky Sinatra did better with the singing Why is the musical so enduring and why did WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs choose it for our American Dreams season In a 2009 article in The New Yorker Damon Runyon s guys and dolls Adam Gopnik writes Musical comedies work by creating circumstances in which people can sing their loves and dreams The WBTT version will sing the loves and dreams of Guys and Dolls with its own unique voice But one of its inspirations is the 1976 Broadway production staged by African American director choreographer Billy Wilson and starring an all Black cast with Robert Guillaume as Nathan Norma Donaldson as Adelaide James Randolph as Sky and Ernestine Jackson as Sarah The music featured Motown style arrangements of the original show tunes Jim Weaver WBTT s education director and artistic associate and the director of this production was lucky enough to catch that production I remember seeing the 1976 African American version of Guys and Dolls on Broadway like it was yesterday Weaver recalls The production had that much of an impact on me The cast was the cr me de la cr me of Black Broadway stars at the time It was such a unique concept taking this classic musical and reinventing it It was a huge success on many levels The show is based on short stories by newspaperman Damon Runyon who created a comical version of a New York underworld of gamblers staying one step ahead of the law His characters have colorful nicknames like Sky for his skyhigh gambling bets Harry the Horse for his habit of wagering on races and Nicely Nicely because he says things are going nicely nicely thank you The picturesque slang of Runyon s stories is captured in the lines and lyrics of Guys and Dolls with examples like No doll can take the place of aces back to back Alright already I m just a nogood nik and Gettin married ain t something you can just jump into like it was a kettle of fish We ain t ready Audiences are always ready to jump into a new production of Guys and Dolls and those lucky enough to see the WBTT version will score aces back to back

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LANGSTON HUGHES NOV 30 DEC 23 2022 ADAPTED DIRECTED BY NATE JACOBS Produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing Woodstock Illinois E ach December WBTT presents a holiday show alternating annually with A Motown Christmas Joyful Joyful which we premiered last season and Langston Hughes Black Nativity A seasonal favorite of Black theatres worldwide Black Nativity has been performed in Boston Atlanta Chicago Seattle Washington D C and other American cities where theatres universities schools and churches keep this 1961 musical a perennial favorite It has often been staged in Europe and Australia as well Its universal message of hope salvation and love reaches the hearts of people of all races and religions score in 2004 on a recording with a host of singers at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Portland Maine The resulting recording Black Nativity in Concert A Gospel Celebration is available on CD and music streaming platforms The holiday hit derives from a script by Harlem Renaissance author Langston Hughes titled Wasn t That a Mighty Day The stage version which opened at New York s Forty First Street Theatre initially was what Hughes called a gospel song play because it presented traditional Christmas carols delivered in a gospel style in its retelling of the birth of the Christ child from a uniquely African American point of view That Black Nativity is still such an audience draw more than 60 years after its first staging is a testament to the lasting power of the nativity tale to engage and inspire audiences Unusual back in 1961 for its entirely Black cast Black Nativity artfully incorporates dance drama and folk spirituals to round out its compelling story The result pleases audiences of all colors and creeds A 2013 film version featuring Forest Whitaker Angela Bassett Mary J Blige and Jennifer Hudson loosely adapted the stage version for the screen Interestingly only a single cast album recording exists of the original production of Black Nativity Conductor and music historian Aaron Robinson undertook a re creation of the Directors love producing Black Nativity because there is a wide latitude in interpretation each staging is unique The WBTT versions are no exception audiences will enjoy new musical arrangements and new choreography in this production Happy holidays from our Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe family to yours

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n i y l F West JAN 4 FEB 12 2023 BY PEARL CLEAGE DIRECTED BY CHUCK SMITH Presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc New York T his play is not only based on history it has its own history at WBTT We presented a reading of the play in the summer of 2018 as part of Project1VOICE during which Black theatres around the country present the same play on the same day The Troupe also planned a fully staged production in the summer of 2020 but the pandemic forced a postponement Now the story is finally coming to the WBTT stage updated Act in 1866 encouraged Black citizens to take part as well Flyin West draws on a seldomtold aspect of American history reminding us that African Americans settled the West too In the case of Flyin West that move is truly life changing and affirming for a small group of African American women Playwright Cleage has a background in the social sciences history and law as well as drama all of which came in handy while writing Flyin West Considered an important contemporary African American writer and feminist she has written other stage works as well as poetry essays novels and magazine pieces Her first novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was selected for Oprah Winfrey s book club Flyin West premiered in Atlanta in 1992 and has been a staple of the African American theatre canon ever since The four female characters here there are two male characters in the show too are homesteaders in Kansas in the 1890s coming to a small all Black town named Nicodemus to accept free public land for cultivation with the understanding that after five years of continuous residence they would own the land themselves The original Homestead Act signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862 welcomed both women and immigrants who applied for citizenship and an In reality of course things were not so simple The women of Flyin West are confronted by white speculators who want to buy their precious land They re also troubled by dissension in their own ranks from one of their husbands Keeping their dream alive about the land the town and the homes they love will not be easy but they are determined and prepared By the way the real town of Nicodemus continues to exist and hosts an annual Emancipation Celebration each July drawing descendants of the original settlers there to celebrate the courage of their ancestors

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FEB 22 APR 9 2023 MUSIC BY HENRY KRIEGER LYRICS AND BOOK BY TOM EYEN DIRECTED BY NATE JACOBS A n inspirational journey through American pop music Dreamgirls chronicles the rise of a fictional Motown group the Dreams from obscurity to superstardom Through gospel R B pop disco and more the show explores themes of ambition hope and betrayal all set in the glamorous and competitive world of the music industry Dreamgirls opened in December 1981 at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards including Best Musical and won six In 2006 it was adapted into a movie starring Jamie Foxx Beyonc Eddie Murphy Jennifer Hudson Danny Glover Anika Noni Rose and Keith Robinson Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe staged a production of the show at the Manatee Players in 2005 and at the Historic Asolo Theater in 2007 Now it brings the show to the beautiful Gerri Aaron and the Aaron Family Foundation Theatre Building and the Donelly Theatre We were thrilled to present that show at a relatively early stage in our now 23 year history says WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs who will direct the 2023 version as he did for the theatre s earlier stagings But we are at a different place now we re more professional we have more support more patrons and a larger audience We can t wait to dream a bigger dream with Dreamgirls this time with new and favorite WBTT artists helping us tell this musical story Nate has also featured songs from the show in two productions of Broadway in Black in 2017 and 2021 and even in Broadway in Black Jr starring our Stage of Discovery students in the summer of 2018 The show s many memorable songs include Dreamgirls One Night Only When I First Saw You And I Am Telling You I m Not Going Cadillac Car and Steppin to the Bad Side Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams Witmark LLC You ll love the WBTT version as the song says Just dream it baby we ll be there

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WORLD PREMIERE THE FATS WALLER REVUE APR 19 MAY 28 2023 CREATED ADAPTED AND DIRECTED BY NATE JACOBS T homas Wright Fats Waller was an American jazz pianist composer singer and comedic entertainer He began playing piano when he was 6 and realized his dream of becoming a professional musician at 15 earning 32 a week at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem The stride style he developed influenced the sound of modern jazz piano Ain t Misbehavin a show devoted to the music Waller made popular debuted on Broadway in 1978 Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe staged the show in its 2010 2011 season the first season at the troupe s current location on Orange Avenue Audiences loved it and Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs has long wanted to further explore Waller s story and music Big Sexy our world premiere tribute to this irrepressible artist features Waller s signature songs including Ain t Misbehavin Honeysuckle Rose Your Feet s Too Big The Joint is Jumpin and many more as well as some lesser known musical gems I m excited to shine the spotlight on this one of a kind larger thanlife entertainer says Nate I m so glad we re bringing his story to the stage in our 2022 2023 season Nate is drawn to the man and his music because he carved his own niche While Duke Ellington was elegant and sophisticated by contrast Fats Waller was silly and outrageous almost a clown but underneath it all was a serious prolific musician He wrote or co wrote over 400 songs His frequent lyricist Andy Razaf said Waller was a bubbling bundle of joy and the soul of melody who made the piano sing What will audiences learn about Waller and his music from Big Sexy In the colorful words of the man himself One never knows do one at least not until the show opens in May 2023 One guarantee the joint will definitely be jumping when Big Sexy hits the stage

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STAGE OF DISCOVERY BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT WBTT S EDUCATION PROGRAMS Students perform in the Stage of Discovery 2022 production We Dream WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE Photos by Sorcha Augustine Some children sing when others talk dance when others walk perform when others watch They are driven by an inner voice that says Express yourself Having the freedom to express your true creative self is like life s blood What a joy it is to see the light grow bright in the eyes of those given the opportunity to discover that truth I m so glad to be here at WBTT to help flip that switch NATE JACOBS FOUNDER ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JIM WEAVER EDUCATION DIRECTOR AND ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE Each summer the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe provides budding artists ages 13 18 an opportunity to express themselves in a nurturing challenging and fun atmosphere at our Stage of Discovery musical theatre intensive program Other WBTT education programs include Jazzlinks which makes African American history art and culture come to life for high school students Rhythm Tales our elementary education program that presents engaging fables about kindness understanding and doing the right thing and our Young Artist Program which allows aspiring performers to showcase their talents on our mainstage in a cabaretstyle show Proceeds go to the performers to continue their education or professional training Experienced professionals from various theatre disciplines focus on developing students artistic skills and building their self confidence Stage of Discovery is offered free of charge to students thanks to our generous donors Please consider a gift to WBTT s education programs For more information call Debra Flynt Garrett at 941 404 7755 or dfgarrett westcoastblacktheatre org The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida Inc is a 501 c 3 not for profit corporation Federal Tax ID 65 1040662 A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL FREE 800 435 7352 WITHIN THE STATE REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE REGISTRATION NO CH17803

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SEE MORE AND SAVE Subscriptions are just 160 for four shows a savings of 40 10 savings per show over individual ticket prices Or choose our preview subscription package of four shows for just 140 save 20 5 savings per show over individual preview ticket prices and see the shows in previews before the official opening night GUYS AND DOLLS OCT 5 NOV 20 2022 FLYIN WEST JAN 4 FEB 12 2023 DREAMGIRLS FEB 22 APR 9 2023 BIG SEXY The Fats Waller Revue World Premiere APR 19 MAY 28 2023 Don t wait Get your subscriptions now and enjoy special savings on a full season of comedy drama music and dance Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe there s nothing else like it 941 366 1505 1012 N ORANGE AVE SARASOTA Ariel Blue in A Night at the Savoy WBTT s 2021 gala Photo by Sorcha Augustine westcoastblacktheatre org

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