Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announces 2016-2017 season: Features five productions, including high-energy musical The Wiz, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, world-premiere original production of Girl Groups: The ‘60s Explosion, and the zany comedy Dearly Departed, plus a holiday revival of Black Nativity

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Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announces 2016-2017 season 
Features five productions, including high-energy musical The Wiz, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, world-premiere original production of Girl Groups: The ‘60s Explosion, and the zany comedy Dearly Departed, plus a holiday revival of Black Nativity
SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has announced its 2016-2017 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 2016 through the end of May 2017, the regular season shows are The WizThe Piano LessonGirl Groups: The ‘60s Explosion, and Dearly Departed. The holiday show is Black Nativity.
“Next season is definitely going to be one of the most diverse Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has ever offered,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “We always want to make sure that we continue moving forward as artists and as an organization, and work hard to break new ground. We are confident fans of the theatre will enjoy the season we’ve put together for them!”
“We are very excited about our 2016-2017 season,” added WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “We feel this lineup showcases the many different facets of WBTT that audiences already love – music, dance and drama that focuses on the African-American experience – while folding in an uproarious comedy, which is relatively new ground for us. We can’t wait for our seventeenth season!”
The 2016-2017 season begins with The Wiz, a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and script by William F. Brown. It is an urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as seen through an African-American lens. The 1975 Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. A film adaptation of the same name – starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross – was released in 1978; a live television adaptation called “The Wiz Live!” – with stars including Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, Queen Latifah, Common and more – aired on NBC in 2015. Show runs from October 12 – November 19, 2016.
WBTT continues its commitment to produce shows by noted playwright August Wilson with The Piano Lesson. It’s the Depression era and an impoverished black family argues over an heirloom piano that their enslaved grandfather carved with figures representing their rich history. Should they honor their past by keeping it or improve their economic future by selling it? This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama – considered to be one of Wilson’s most powerful and eloquent plays – explores the universal issues of family, history and survival. Runs from January 11 – February 18, 2017.
Girl Groups: The ‘60s Explosion – a world premiere written and directed by Jacobs – showcases the women who took the stage and airwaves by storm. Up until the 1960s, women mostly sang background for men’s groups. However, groups like The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Cherelles, and The Marvelettes changed the game for women, moving them solidly front and center stage. Features signature hits such as “Please Mr. Postman,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and many more. Patrons will leave the theater “Dancing in the Streets.” Runs from March 1 – April 8, 2017.
Slated to complete the subscription season is Dearly Departed, written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, a delightful and heartwarming comedy about the dysfunctional Turpins, who gather in their rural Southern home for the patriarch’s funeral. The family’s laugh-out-loud, zany antics are a wonderful reminder that family situations are seldom tidy but often extremely funny. The show was replicated in the 2011 film version, Kingdom Come, starring Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J. Runs April 19 – May 27, 2017.
During the holiday season – back by popular demand – WBTT presents Black Nativity, by Langston Hughes.  Local audiences loved Black Nativity in 2014 and WBTT decided to make it a biennial event. This production is a celebration of the Nativity story with gospel, blues, spiritual, and Christmas music, paired with the poetry of Langston Hughes and the creativity of WBTT. Children and adults alike will be enthralled by this high-energy, inspiring show. Runs November 30 – December 23, 2016. Black Nativity is not included in the subscription series.
Current subscribers will be able to renew their subscriptions beginning March 21, 2016 by calling the Box Office at 941.366.1505 (press “1”) or by visiting the website, westcoastblacktheatre.org, to download the subscription form and mail it in. New subscribers may begin purchasing subscriptions on April 25. Subscriptions will be processed in the order that they are received; priority will be given to donors and renewing subscribers. Individual show tickets will be available August 1, 2016.
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.
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