SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is thrilled to close its 2021-2022 season with two world-premiere one-act plays, under the auspices of its New Playwrights Series. These plays, “From Birmingham To Broadway” and “Float Like A Butterfly,” will be presented together May 4-29.
“From Birmingham to Broadway” was written by and stars popular WBTT artist Tarra Conner jones. A tour-de-force tribute to Broadway singer and TV actress Nell Carter, the play portrays Carter’s determination to excel in entertainment despite her non-traditional appearance. Through a powerful combination of music, comedy and drama, Conner jones embodies the never-give-up spirit of this shining star of stage and screen. Director is WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs.
Conner jones is a gifted singer, actor, performer and playwright. She has played many roles over the years but she’s most proud of her work as: Matron Morton in “Chicago” at The Fulton Theatre, Mama Ogre and Dragon in “Shrek” at The Alhambra (the show that made her a member of the Actors’ Equity Association), and Nell Carter in “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Theatre By The Sea in Rhode Island. Locally, she has been featured in WBTT’s productions of “The Wiz,” “How I Got Over,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Ma Rainey) and “Black Nativity” (Archangel Gabriel) as well as been featured during the recent WBTT April Fools Fête. Most recently, Conner jones portrayed Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray” and Tressa in “Flight” aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas; she sailed with the cruise line for nearly seven months. She also worked under contract in Shanghai, China several years ago, performing in jazz and funk clubs.
“Float Like a Butterfly” was written by Jacobs and his brother, Michael Jacobs, and will feature musical compositions by Derric Gobourne Jr. and Henry Washington. Darius Autry becomes the greatest-of-all-time heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali in this homage to a man who took a stand against the Vietnam war and injustice in America. Ali continues to inspire activist athletes to speak up for their beliefs. He was much more than a boxer: he was and remains an icon who showed the world he could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – far beyond the boxing ring. Director is Nate Jacobs.
Autry – who was introduced to WBTT audiences in February in a rooftop play reading of Dominique Morisseau’s “Skeleton Crew” in the role of Dez – is a Tampa native who was last seen on stage as Romeo in Jobsite’s production of “Romeo & Juliet.” He has brought other roles to life in the theatre, such as Lincoln in “Topdog/Underdog,” Martin in “Seminar,” and Woodson Bull III in “Third.” Between his theatrical commitments, Autry acts on-camera and writes film scripts. He can currently be seen on multiple domestic and international streaming platforms in the titular role in “Harvey,” an independent feature film.
“The New Playwrights Series fits perfectly into our mission of supporting and developing African American artists, offering emerging as well as established minority playwrights the opportunity to present new works on an established and nurturing stage,” said Nate Jacobs. “These one-act plays will shine a spotlight on two very important figures in Black history, offering insight into their motivations, their respective journeys, and the lasting impact they have had on American society as well as future generations.”
These plays will be presented together from May 4-29, 2022. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday matinees. Performances take place in The Donelly Theatre at WBTT (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). Tickets are $47/adults, $20/students and active military (prices include all applicable fees). Call the Box Office at 941-366-1505 or visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.
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.