SARASOTA, FL – Local arts organization Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) was recently presented with a check for $1,000 by JoMo Productions, by its president, Jo Morello. This gift was in recognition of WBTT’s support for bringing the JoMo Productions play “Lil & Louis” to life, from conception through its successful full production in January 2020. The donation is designated to support WBTT’s Stage of Discovery youth training program.
JoMo Productions Inc. was established in 2018 to present events in the performing arts, with an emphasis on live performance. Its first project was “Lil & Louis,” a play with music that dramatized the professional and personal lives of Lil Hardin Armstrong and Louis Armstrong, who were known as the “first couple of jazz.”
Morello, an award-winning playwright and a former public relations director for the Jazz Club of Sarasota, its Sarasota Jazz Festival, and other clients, said in a letter to WBTT that “the people at WBTT gave JoMo Productions access to its talent, tech, spaces and much more – unstintingly – as partners in the creative process.”
“It is not an understatement to say that ‘Lil & Louis’ would not have happened if WBTT did not have our backs,” said Morello. “JoMo can never repay the enormity of what WBTT has done for us, but we are pleased that we can help in some small way. Thank you for having a dream and a vision, and the energy, perseverance and genius to make it all happen!”
Since the work at WBTT, further development of the play resulted in a revised script, retitled “Lil & Satchmo,” that was produced by Jubilee Theater in Fort Worth, Tex., for the entire month of February 2022 in observance of Black History Month. Morello reports that the show is now under consideration for production by a theater company near Orlando, Fla.
“At WBTT, our mission is not only to present but also to support the creation of works that promote and celebrate African American history and experience,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “The story of Louis and Lil Hardin Armstrong is one of innovation, determination and artistic genius by two Black Americans who were way ahead of their time. We are proud to have been of assistance in bringing the play to stages in Sarasota … and beyond!”
For more about WBTT, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.
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. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org for more information.