• Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe invited again to National Black Theatre Festival

    (From l-r) The cast of ‘How I Got Over: A Gospel Musical’ during a high-energy number | Photo by Don Daly Photo

    SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has been recognized with its third invitation to perform during the National Black Theatre Festival, which takes place every other year in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. WBTT will perform “How I Got Over: A Gospel Musical,” a show that WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs created and adapted; the Troupe debuted this show as “How I Got Over: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson” during the summer of 2016.

    The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe aims to raise the rafters in celebration of Mahalia Jackson and other gospel greats: traditional songs like “Travelin’ Shoes,” “Amazing Grace” and “When The Saints Go Marching In” are combined with more current ones such as “Elijah Rock,” “Oh Happy Day” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” to bring a show that’s sung from WBTT’s heart. WBTT will perform “How I Got Over” five times from August 2-5.

    “We could not be more thrilled to be invited back to the National Black Theatre Festival and to bring our third original production,” said Jacobs. “In 2013, all four performances of Soul Crooners were sold out. In 2015, we performed four shows of Soul Crooners 2 in a larger auditorium and, again, all were sold out. This year we get five performances in a 600-seat venue and our goal is to show the whole world what our theater can do – we aim to do Sarasota very proud!”

    Artists performing in the show include Ariel Blue, Brian L. Boyd, Ashley Brooks, Earley Dean, Derric Gobourne, Jr., Tarra Conner jones, Elaine Mayo, Michael Mendez, Neyce Pierre, Joshua Thompson and Topaz von Wood. WBTT will bring its live band as well, including music director Robert Henderson, Jamar Camp, Matthew McKinnon and Donald “Snoopy” Watts.

    “It is such an honor for our organization to enjoy three consecutive invitations to this renowned international event,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “Not only does this offer an opportunity to share our work with fans of the theatre from around the world, it also provides our most passionate board members and supporters with the chance to experience a joyful celebration of Black theatre and see what other groups are doing. It’s really an exuberant and memorable week!”

    The National Black Theatre Festival is the international outreach program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Co., founded in 1979. The festival has been held biennially since 1989 and attracts thousands of national and international patrons, theater professionals, and scholars. This year’s Festival takes place July 31 – August 5; approximately 35 companies – as well as 6 fringe productions – have been invited to perform, for a total of more than 130 performances. For more information and tickets, go to nbtf.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 professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.