Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Announces 2015-2016 Season
Celebrating 16 Years of Electrifying Theatre in Sarasota
Features five productions, including
Tony Award-nominated musical The Color Purple,
a revival of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,
the world premiere of The Sam Cooke Story by Nate Jacobs,
the Pulitzer Prize-winning Driving Miss Daisy,
and a holiday production of A Motown Christmas
SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has announced its 2015-2016 season. In addition to four regular-season shows, which are included in the season subscription, the schedule includes a special holiday show being offered outside of the subscription. Running from October 2015 through the end of May 2016, the regular season shows are The Color Purple, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Sam Cooke Story, and Driving Miss Daisy. The holiday show is A Motown Christmas.
Along with the season announcement, WBTT patrons will be excited to learn that reserved seating will debut at the WBTT theatre for the first time in the new season. Recent marketing surveys indicate this is the theatre’s most requested change to enhance the patron experience; some minor cosmetic renovations will take place over the summer to make this a reality.
“From our 15th Anniversary Celebration to this point in the current season, we have definitely raised the bar for our organization from previous years,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “We want to make sure that we continue to move forward as artists and as an organization, and work hard to break new ground. I am very excited to be able to debut two world-premieres in the coming season, and to present award-winning dramatic material. I am sure our local fans of the theatre will enjoy the season we’ve put together for them!”
“We are very excited about our upcoming season,” said WBTT executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr. “On the heels of our effervescent and sold-out 15th anniversary season, we wanted to continue to focus on increasing our patron experience. This includes implementing reserved seating to better accommodate audience members and announcing our season earlier than previous years to reach the majority of our patrons during the height of season.”
The 2015-2016 season begins with Tony Award-nominated musical, The Color Purple, which runs from October 14 through November 21. This inspirational musical tells the story of an unforgettable woman who triumphs over adversity and discovers her unique voice in the world. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the popular 1985 Steven Spielberg film, the play chronicles Celie’s 40-year evolution from near-enslavement to enlightenment through heartfelt letters to God and her long-lost missionary sister. With a jubilant score of roof-raising gospel, jazz and throaty blues, The Color Purple is the tale of an everywoman triumphing over adversity, and a testament to the power of hope. Runs October 14 – November 21, 2015.
In Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, it’s 1927 in Chicago, Ill. and the fiery Blues legend Gertrude “Ma” Rainey is ready to record her signature songs. Inside the cramped recording studio, she squares off against a battling quartet of musicians and a tight-fisted white producer. This gripping play with music highlights a time in American history when even the most renowned black singer of her day had to fight against racism for the respect she deserved. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom shows us an era that was as full of possibility as it was risk for those striving to achieve the American side of being African American. Runs January 13 – February 20, 2016.
The Sam Cooke Story – a world premiere written and directed by Jacobs – tells the fascinating story of one of the most popular black singers/songwriters of all time. Sam Cooke was born to sing. His distinctive voice and movie-star looks propelled him to superstardom across diverse audiences. First a gospel singer, he then blended spirituality and sensuality, sophistication and soul to create such hits as You Send Me, Saturday Night, A Change is Gonna Come and Twistin’ the Night Away. His tragic death at the age of 33 cut short his career, but his influence in the music world lives on today. Runs March 2 – April 9, 2016.
Slated to complete the subscription season is Driving Miss Daisy. Area patrons of the theatre will be delighted to learn that renowned director and former Producing Artistic Director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre, Howard Millman, will direct. Driving Miss Daisy shows what happens when you pair a feisty Jewish widow who lives by the rules of social etiquette with a proud, hard-working African-American chauffeur. In 1948 Atlanta, it’s a hostile clashing of wills. But as the 25-year relationship evolves, the two navigate the bumpy road of bigotry and Civil Rights together, and a profound, life-altering bond emerges. Driving Miss Daisy is a moving, Pulitzer Prize-winning story of friendship told with humor, warmth and beauty. Runs April 20 – May 28, 2016.
During the December holiday season, WBTT presents the world premiere of A Motown Christmas, created and directed by Jacobs. Audiences can celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with this exciting, family-friendly Christmas musical. All of your holiday favorites from music superstars such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, and many others will be performed with that dazzling Westcoast signature style, coupled with a soulful Motown flair. Runs December 2-31, 2015. A Motown Christmas is not included in the subscription series.
After the final performance of A Motown Christmas, WBTT offers for the first time a New Year’s party, “A Motown New Year’s Eve Spectacular.” For tickets to the show, cocktails, dinner by the bite, and dancing through the night, cost is $125; cost for the party only is $85.
Season Subscriptions will go on sale beginning March 1, 2015 and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 941.366.1505 (press “3” for subscriber services) or by visiting the website, westcoastblacktheatre.org, to download the subscription form. Individual show tickets will be available September 1, 2015.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc., is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on Westcoast Black Theatre, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.