SARASOTA, FL – In the face of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe officials have canceled the remainder of WBTT’s 2019-2020 performance season. In addition to the final three weeks of the run of “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God,” WBTT has canceled the highly-anticipated world-premiere musical “Ruby” and the season’s closing production, “Flyin’ West.”
The cancellation of these shows has the potential to cost the theatre as much as $400,000 in revenue and could potentially put WBTT in the red for the season.
“Ruby” will be slotted into the 2020-2021 season in place of the planned production of “Eubie!” The regular season shows, running from October 7, 2020 through June 6, 2021, will now be “Broadway in Black,” “Ruby,” “Pipeline” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.” The holiday show is “Black Nativity.”
WBTT has already postponed its annual spring fundraiser, the April Fools Fete, from March 30 to May 18; this event benefits WBTT’s education programs. The organization is still hoping to be able to hold it as well as start its Stage of Discovery musical theatre camp in June, as scheduled, but will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation to determine if these programs are possible.
“While we are heartbroken to have to cancel the remainder of our season, we simply had no other options in the face of current realities,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “Our first priority must be to protect the health and safety of our patrons, artists and staff. This situation is more painful as we’re losing the majority of our season – our theater renovations in 2019 caused us to push the entirety of our production schedule to 2020. Our leadership is currently looking at ways to address the financial ramifications of this critical and significant lost revenue, but have managed to pay our casts and musicians some severance and to keep our staff and creative team employed and engaged in planning our future creative projects.”
Support to help WBTT survive in this difficult time, whether by donating cancelled tickets instead of requesting a refund, or sending more significant gifts, is greatly appreciated.
WBTT’s Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs said, “Although times are a little somber right now, we think of the words of Maya Angelou and say, ‘Still we rise.’ We look forward to bringing our exciting signature shows back to our stage soon, to help cheer up the community, once it’s safe to do so.”
While WBTT continues to encourage supporters to consider donating the cost of their tickets to help the nonprofit performing arts organization through these difficult times, it is offering refunds for the canceled shows. The Box Office is closed for in-person transactions but the phone lines (941-366-1505) are staffed. The organization asks for patience and requests that patrons unable to get through immediately leave voicemails, with a promise to return calls in the order they are received. Emails will also be answered and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Season subscribers will receive their 2020-2021 subscription packages in early May; single tickets will go on sale in August. WBTT is posting updates on its website: westcoastblacktheatre.org.