SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to continue the fifth year of its annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with one-night, one-person shows. The second Young Artist performance of the season, “Show Man of Heart & Soul,” features popular WBTT artist Leon S. Pitts II and takes place Sunday, March 11 at 8:00 p.m. Pitts will bring his passion to the stage, singing songs that have touched the hearts and souls of generations by such artists as Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Al Green and Luther Vandross.
Young Artist Program shows take place at the WBTT theater, located at 1646 10th Way in Sarasota. Tickets are $25 general admission; sponsor tickets, which include reserved preferred seating, are $100. Call the box office at (941) 366-1505 or purchase tickets online at westcoastblacktheatre.org.
Pitts is a founding member of WBTT. He made his debut in Purlie and has performed in a number of the Troupe’s productions over the years, including The Wiz, A Motown Christmas, Ain’t Misbehavin, Hot Mikado, Love Sung in the Key of Aretha, and The Fabulous 5. Pitts has danced in and choreographed many local shows and concerts, and spent the summer of 2005 in Tucson, Arizona, and Coral Springs, Florida, where he appeared in Five Guys Named Moe (No Moe). He is a member of the popular WBTT group, Soul Crooners, and performs at numerous regional and local events; in previous years, the group has toured Germany and performed at the National Black Theatre Festival.
WBTT’s Young Artist Program, part of its education programming, was created to support, develop and showcase the talent of young, aspiring artists. The Young Artist Program offers company members the opportunity to develop and present an original production. All proceeds from the show are given to the presenting artist to be used to further their artistic and professional development.
“My primary goal when I founded Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was to build a platform where I could train and mentor young artists,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs, who offers advice and assistance in developing and directing Young Artist presentations. “This program highlights our commitment to investing in the up-and-coming artists who work with us in order to further their performance and career opportunities.”
Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youths through participation in the company’s productions. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the organization’s performing arts program have gone on to work with regional and national companies. One of WBTT’s youngest performers, Christopher Eisenberg, has been signed by Sony/ATV as part of pop group Next Town Down. WBTT dancer Derric Gobourne was named a YoungArts Finalist by the National YoungArts Foundation. Last year, Naarai Jacobs – frequent WBTT performer and the daughter of Nate –performed as a backup singer for international music star Logic at the MTV Video Music Awards, on “Ellen” and other prominent stages.
“The Young Artist Program gives artists who may have only experienced ensemble work the opportunity to move into the spotlight,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “The participating artists are responsible for writing their own script, the song choices, costumes, choreography, marketing … every facet of building a production. It is a rigorous effort but one that helps to equip our artists with the tools they need to take their careers to the next level.”
For more information or tickets to WBTT’s season of shows, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The mission of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe 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.