SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has been recognized with its fourth invitation to perform during the National Black Theatre Festival, which takes place July 29 – August 3 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. WBTT will perform Soul Man, a musical revue that WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs created and adapted; the Troupe debuted this show during its 2017-2018 season.
Prior to the departure of the WBTT contingent for Winston-Salem, on July 26, the organization is hosting a sizzling “Soul Man Send-Off Soirée” at Michael’s On East – local fans are invited to attend and enjoy a delicious Low Country boil buffet dinner, full bar, and a 45-minute excerpt from Soul Man. Tickets are $100 (proceeds will offset festival costs) and are available at westcoastblacktheatre.org or by calling the Box Office: 941-366-1505.
The music of Soul Man is mined from the 1960s, a time when America was an uneasy place: the battle for civil rights was ongoing, international tensions were at an all-time high, and the country lost President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to assassins’ bullets. The popular music of the time incorporated emotions and concepts tied to the decade’s social upheaval while offering a hopeful look at better, more peaceful days to come.
Audiences of Soul Man will hear some of the most recognizable tunes of the ‘60s, made popular by artists including Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sam & Dave, James Brown, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, and more.
“We could not be more thrilled to be invited back to the National Black Theatre Festival and to bring yet another original production,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “In 2013, all four performances of Soul Crooners were sold out. In 2015, we returned to the festival with Soul Crooners 2, and presented How I Got Over in 2017, with critical acclaim and numerous sold-out shows for both. This year we’ll perform Soul Man five times in the 1,900-seat Reynolds Auditorium; our goal is to show the whole world what our theater can do – we aim to do Sarasota very proud!”
Actors performing in the show are “Soul Men 1-5” Sheldon Rhoden, Michael Mendez, Leon S. Pitts, II, Raleigh Mosely, II and Henry Washington, plus Ariel Blue (Diamond) and Derric Gobourne, Jr. (Breezy). WBTT will bring its live band as well: James E. Dodge II, bass, also serves as music director for the show; Todd Bellamy, piano; Courtland Green, auxiliary keys; Willie Thompson, guitar; and Etienne “EJ” Porter, drums.
“It is a tremendous honor for our organization to enjoy four 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 theater from around the world, it also provides our most passionate organizational leaders and supporters with the chance to experience a joyful celebration of Black theater and see what other groups are doing. It’s really quite a 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. Programming this year will include a film festival, a teen showcase, workshops, seminars, an international colloquium, several dozen mainstage productions, and a fringe festival. 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. Its mission is to produce professional theater 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 about WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.