Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens season with ‘The Color Purple’; Production brings WBTT founding member Apphia Campbell back to WBTT; serves as WBTT directorial debut for James Harkness

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Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens season with ‘The Color Purple’
Production brings WBTT founding member Apphia Campbell back to WBTT; serves as WBTT directorial debut for James Harkness
SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens its 2015-2016 season with The Color Purple, with a run of October 14 – November 21. This inspiring 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.
WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs is thrilled to bring this production to Sarasota. “We really wanted to continue to raise the bar, especially after our 15th anniversary season, which definitely took our organization to another level,” said Jacobs. “The Color Purple is so beloved by readers and audiences of the film and musical that I thought it was time to bring its compelling story to our stage. It’s a large and challenging piece but we’ve got a great director, James Harkness, who has an incredible understanding of what this show is all about. I think audiences will be blown away.”
Cast members include: Apphia Campbell (Celie), Cecil E. Washington, Jr. (Mister), Khadijah Rolle (Nettie), Neyce Pierre (Shug), Xylina Stamper (Squeak), Joel Patrick King (Harpo), Tarra Conner jones, Tierra A. Walker and Deidra Grace (church ladies), Earley Dean (Grady), Dametria “Dee” Selmore (Sofia), Jeffery Cason (Pa) and Martin Taylor (Ole Mister/Preacher). WBTT founding member Apphia Campbell is returning to Sarasota from her current home of Edinburgh, Scotland – where she works as a professional actress – to play Celie.
The show director, Harkness, is making his WBTT directorial debut with The Color Purple, a production in which he has been involved previously as an actor – including in the Broadway debut in 2005 – and choreographer. Harkness is an accomplished artist who has worked across the platforms of stage and film. He is currently appearing on Broadway in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – he took a leave of absence in order to direct The Color Purple and will return after the show opens – and also recently performed alongside Betty Buckley in Grey Gardens The Musical. His stage credits include Aida, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Dreamgirls and Smokey Joe’s Café. Film credits include The Maid’s Room and The Mend. He has earned numerous creative credits as a choreographer.
Music director is John Bronston, production manager is James Dodge II, costume designer is Cristy Owen, scenic design is by Donna and Mark Buckalter, lighting design by Michael Pasquini, property master is Annette Breazeale, and stage manager is Juanita Munford. Music and lyrics for this production are by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.
Performances, which take place at the WBTT theater (1646 10th Way, Sarasota) are 8pm Tuesday-Saturday with 2pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $38/adults, $27 students or active military with valid ID. Call the Box Office (941-366-1505) or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
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 WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.
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