SARASOTA, FL – For Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 22nd anniversary gala, “A Night at the Savoy,” the arts organization will re-create the look and sound of Harlem’s famous ballroom – the first integrated ballroom in New York. The event will take place on Saturday, December 4, 6-9 p.m. at the Circus Arts Conservatory’s Sailor Circus Arena (2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota).
The arts organization has just announced that the legendary, groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning artist Melba Moore will appear at the gala, performing three songs along with WBTT artists and the live band.
While in-person tickets are sold out, for those who would like to join in the fun from home while supporting the cause, WBTT is offering a livestream option, which is accessible via computer, tablet, smartphone or smart TV. The livestream begins at 7:30 p.m. and costs just $100 (total amount is tax-deductible).
Moore is an American singer, actress and entertainer who made her Broadway debut in “Hair.” Over the course of that show, she became the first African-American woman to replace a white actress (Diane Keaton) in a lead role. In 1970 she starred in “Purlie,” which earned her a Tony Award for her portrayal as Lutiebelle. Another first came when she landed the female lead role on Broadway as Fantine in the acclaimed musical, “Les Misérables.” Following the success of “Purlie,” Moore landed two big-screen film roles, released two successful albums, “I Got Love” and “Look What You’re Doing to the Man,” and co-starred with actor Clifton Davis in the then-couple’s own successful variety television series in 1972. She has topped the charts with a number of successful songs – including hits “Lean on Me” and “You Stepped Into My Life” – and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.
Moore has previously come to Sarasota for WBTT’s Broadway Under the Stars gala in 2015, was featured during a WBTT Voices program in 2018, and she starred in the leading role for WBTT’s production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” in 2018. While she’s here for the Gala, Moore will also be featured in a conversational master class for artists from WBTT and the community.
In addition to Moore’s appearance, guests will enjoy a live performance from WBTT’s singers and band, with tunes from Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and others, as they are “dropped off in Harlem” for a night to remember while supporting WBTT. During the event, longtime supporter and immediate past Board of Trustees Chair Marian Moss will be recognized as WBTT’s Heart & Soul Philanthropy honoree. Dinner will be catered by Michael’s On East.
“We could not be more thrilled to welcome Melba Moore back to Sarasota, to support our work in the community through her appearance during our fall gala,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “We are so incredibly fortunate to have an artist of Melba’s stature as a friend of our organization and hope our guests – whether in person or viewing via livestream – will enjoy this special treat.”
Co-chairs are Mona Rankin and Dona Scott. Lead sponsors are the Brunckhorst Family, Sarasota Magazine and Dona & Sam Scott. Numerous sponsorship opportunities are still available for the fundraiser.
Tickets are $100/person for the livestream option. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org to purchase tickets; call Debra Flynt-Garrett for sponsorship opportunities: 941-404-7755.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. For more information, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.