SARASOTA, FL – For more than a decade, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has offered the lively and music-filled fundraiser, its April Fools Fête, to support its education programs. This year, with social events cautiously returning to the scene, WBTT has moved the event outdoors to its theatre arts center for a socially-distanced live audience on April 5. While the live event is sold out, WBTT will also offer a livestream option so the rest of the community can join the party virtually while supporting the Troupe’s education programs.
Favorite WBTT performers Syreeta S. Banks, Ariel Blue, Michael Mendez, Raleigh Mosely II, Dave Pitts, Leon S. Pitts II and Henry Washington will sing the jukebox hits of the 1960s. Supporters can see the impact of WBTT’s youth development programs as Stage of Discovery students and alumni, including Janiah Gregory, Tianna Harris, Aliciana Harvey-Lopez, Astrid McIntyre, Zion Thompson, Canela Vasquez and Samuel Waite, show their stuff.
Artists will be accompanied by WBTT’s live band: Music Director James “Jay” Dodge II on bass, Todd Bellamy on piano, Jamar Camp on auxiliary keys, Brad Foutch on guitar, and Etienne “EJ” Porter on drums.
“We could not be more excited to present this special event and showcase the success of our young artist and youth development programs,” said Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director of WBTT. “Whether live or livestream, we are confident that all of our patrons will feel the joy and energy of WBTT. We are grateful to all who support the work we do in our community!”
The event benefits WBTT’s education programs, including: Stage of Discovery, the summer musical theatre intensive program for students ages 13-18; Jazzlinks, WBTT’s high school education program; Rhythm & Tales, an elementary education program; and the Young Artist Program. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, WBTT has pivoted to virtual versions of these programs to continue its mission and ensure continued impact.
Platinum sponsors for the April Fools Fête are the Brunckhorst Family, Shelley and Sy Goldblatt, and the Dona & Sam Scott Foundation.
“While we know there may be some fans who are disappointed not to be able to attend this event in person, our first priority is to consider the safety of the community as well as our artists and staff,” said Julie Leach, executive director of WBTT. “We hope the livestream option will serve as a vibrant way for WBTT to stay connected with patrons and theatre fans as well as spread cheer throughout the community, all while raising crucial funds to support our education programs.”
The virtual program takes place on Monday, April 5, 7-9 p.m. Livestream tickets are $50/household and are 100% tax-deductible. To purchase, 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.