SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe continues its subscription season with Vinnette Carroll’s “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.” This Broadway musical – originally staged in 1976 – bears the subtitle “A Soaring Celebration in Song and Dance.” The energetic retelling of the Biblical Book of Matthew, featuring music and lyrics by Alex Bradford and Micki Grant, tells the story of Jesus, his apostles, and the women who inspired, followed and consoled him. From parables to miracles, from crucifixion to resurrection, it’s a tale of love, betrayal and redemption, told through rousing gospel music.
While the story of the Book of Matthew is a familiar one, audiences may be less familiar with the origin of the show’s title. Supposedly, the first use of the phrase springs from Harlem Renaissance leading light and social activist James Weldon Johnson’s 1912 novel, “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” where it was attributed to a powerful preacher named John Brown. Later, Johnson used it in his poem, “The Prodigal Son.” Interestingly, the phrase has been adapted to more contemporary uses, from a piece by rapper Xzibit to songs by GZA and Killah Priest of the group Wu-Tang Clan.
Director is Harry Bryce. Audience members will recognize a number of regular WBTT artists appearing in the show, including Syreeta S. Banks, Teresa Stanley, Charles Lattimore, Raleigh Mosely, Samone Hicks and more as well as popular dancers Donald Frison (WBTT’s resident choreographer who also serves as the show’s choreographer), Chakara Rosa, Derric Gobourne Jr. and Joshua Thompson.
The live band is James “Jay” Dodge II, Music Director/bass, Mike Andrews, drums, Courtland Green, keyboard, and Jeff Cash Jr., auxiliary keys. Artistic crew includes James “Jay” Dodge II, production manager; Juanita, Munford, stage manager; Michael Newton-Brown, set designer; Nick Jones, lighting designer; Shane Streight, technical director; Annette Breazeale, property master; and Adrienne Pitts, costume designer.
“We present this show in great part to honor the remarkable Vinnette Carroll, a playwright, actress and director who was the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway,” said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “During her long and distinguished career, she taught, directed, appeared onstage and in films, and developed a new form of theatre: the ‘gospel song-play,’ combining music, theatre and dance in inspirational ways, as audiences will see in this production.”
Show runs February 26 – April 5, 2020, with evening performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $45/adults (plus applicable ticket fees); $20/students and active duty military (ages 25 and under, 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. 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, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.