SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe invites the community to celebrate the holiday season with Black Nativity, an inspirational gospel musical originally penned by poet/playwright Langston Hughes that retells the biblical nativity story. The music is combined with dance, poetry and narrative to deliver a message of joy, hope, victory and liberation.
Black Nativity returns to the WBTT stage by popular demand: the show enjoyed a sold-out run in December of 2014. The music is a celebratory mash-up of gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music, paired with the poetry of Hughes and the creativity of the Westcoast Black Theatre; founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs adapted and is directing the work. Children and adults of all races and backgrounds will be enthralled by this high-energy, theatrical wonderment.
“This show is our Christmas card of the season. Our presentation in 2014 infused joy and inspiration into the holiday season while staying true to our mission of promoting and celebrating the African American experience,” said Jacobs. “Langston Hughes was dedicated to telling real-life stories of the African American people and I know audiences here in Sarasota have been inspired, regardless of their race. We’re thrilled to bring this show back for area audiences to enjoy.”
The show was first performed off-Broadway in 1961 – it was one of the first plays written by an African American to be staged there. Black Nativity is performed annually in cities across the country, including Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill., Boston, Mass. and Seattle, Wash, and was made into a film, with numerous African American stars including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and Jennifer Hudson, in 2013.
In addition to directing, Jacobs will perform in the show; vocal powerhouse Tarra Conner jones also returns to reprise her role as the “Archangel.” A number of popular Troupe members will be featured in the production, including Sheldon Roden, Alyssa White, Amber Myers, Brian L. Boyd, and dancers Donald Frison (who serves as choreographer), Chakara Rosa, Derric Gobourne and Josh Thompson.
James E. Dodge II is production manager; Juanita Munford is production stage manager; Patrick Russini is sound engineer; Michael Newton-Brown is set designer; Michael Pasquini is lighting designer; Cristy Owen is costume designer; and Annette Breazeale is property master.
“Black Nativity is the perfect holiday offering for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe,” said executive director Julie Leach. “Material like this enhances our ability to teach, uplift, engage and entertain – with ‘Black Nativity’ we can accomplish all of those in about two hours.”
Black Nativity delivers powerfully both the sorrows and the joys of the African-American experience in this Christmastime celebration. The show runs from November 30 – December 23 at the WBTT theater (1646 10th Way, Sarasota). Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays (except on December 3) and Sundays. Tickets are $42/adults, $30/students and 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 and 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.