Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe presents ‘Jazz Hot Mamas’
World premier musical revue written by Nate Jacobs honors female jazz greats
SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s season continues with Jazz Hot Mamas, a world premiere by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. In this sizzling musical revue, Jacobs salutes the great female performers of the jazz era, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Etta Jones and Peggy Lee. They rose to stardom, broke barriers, and left a legacy few can match. Their phenomenal voices, style and grace won over audiences around the world.
Starring in the show are Matelyn Alicia, Naarai Jacobs, Kenessa “Neyce” Pierre and Teresa Stanley, who returns to Sarasota by way of Broadway, where she played “Justice/Mother” in Rock of Ages. [See artists’ bios below.]
“Throughout WBTT’s 15-year history, we’ve covered a variety of musical genres in our shows, from soul and gospel to pop and rock ‘n roll. We’ve performed many shows that feature male superstars, but hardly any about women celebrities and none about the wonderful women jazz singers of the ‘50s and ‘60s,” said WBTT’s founder and artistic director, Nate Jacobs. “The artists we’re featuring are legends who influenced the international music world with their dynamic voices and distinctive style. We are proud to honor their legacy through this original show.”
Several months ago, WBTT had already sold most of its available seats for Jazz Hot Mamas and decided to extend the run another week. The theater has also just added two Sunday evening shows, on March 22 and March 29.
“We guessed this might be our hottest ticket of the season but we are still amazed at how quickly we sold out of our available inventory,” said Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr. “We are confident local audiences will absolutely love this show – we are thrilled by the level of excitement already surrounding it.”
Jazz Hot Mamas runs February 25 through April 4. Tickets are $29.50 general admission, $16.50 students; call the box office at (941) 366-1505 or go to the website, westcoastblacktheatre.org, for show times and to purchase tickets.
Matelyn Alicia, a native of Akron Ohio, is a singer, songwriter and actress. She is making her first appearance with WBTT in Jazz Hot Mamas. Matelyn’s theatrical debut took place on the stage of the Steven’s Center for the Performing Arts, as Bessie Smith in the North Carolina Black Repertory’s (NCBR) production of Mabel Robinson’s Mahalia: Queen of Gospel for the 2007 National Black Theater Festival (NBTF). She went on to perform in several other shows, including another NBTF appearance in NCBR’s 2013 production of CROWNS as Jeanette. Currently a resident of Winston-Salem, NC, Matelyn will appear in the 2015 NBTF in Mabel Robinson’s Glory of Gospel.
Naarai Jacobs is the talented daughter of WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. She has been entertaining on area stages since kindergarten. At St. Stephen’s High School, Naarai starred in The Curious Savage, and has performed with WBTT in a number of shows, including The Best of Stevie Wonder, The Eve of Jackie and, most recently, Little Shop of Horrors. A 2014 graduate of Howard University, she majored in theater arts and acting. She was a member of a popular campus singing group and was a featured soloist in various school productions. In addition to being a gifted singer, Naarai has become an accomplished songwriter. She has recently released her first original EP called, “On My Way.”
Kenessa “Neyce” Pierre started singing at three years old and, as a teen, became a member of her grandfather’s gospel group out of Columbus, Ga. She debuted with WBTT in the 2006-2007 season and has performed in a number of productions since then. Neyce was cast in Caroline Or Change with the Black Theatre Troupe of Phoenix, Arizona. She has performed in WBTT’s Dreamgirls, Sisters in the Name of Soul, Once on this Island, Marvin Gaye: The Prince of Soul, and Dynamic Duets of the ‘70s. Neyce is a mother of two young girls and also has a full-time job as a beauty advisor in a local retail establishment.
Teresa Stanley appeared in her first major musical, Purlie, directed by Nate Jacobs. Rave reviews inspired her to continue performing in a variety of the company’s musicals, including Ain’t Misbehavin, Eubie and Dreamgirls. Seeking her dreams outside of the community since her years with WBTT, Teresa has toured internationally with “The New York Harlem Singers” and nationally with “The Broadway Church Ladies.” In 2007 Teresa was cast in The Color Purple on Broadway, playing numerous roles. Later, she performed in the first national tour of Rock of Ages and was brought back to Broadway by the show’s producers to assume the principle role of “Justice/Mother.” With the recent close of the long-running Broadway show, Teresa is pleased to return home to appear in this original production. Teresa thanks Nate for seeing the gift in her, and her mother for unconditional love and support
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.