Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is kicking off its 20th year as a renowned Sarasota arts organization in dramatic fashion, with "Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now! WBTT’s 20th Anniversary Celebration" on Nov. 18, The high-energy event will offer sensational entertainment featuring WBTT founding members Apphia Campbell, Jnana Cooper, Henry Porter, II, Tsadok Porter and Teresa Stanley, plus WBTT’s most popular artists and the sizzling WBTT house band, led by Resident Music Director Jay Dodge.
There will be special appearances by WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs’ daughter, Naarai, who has enjoyed significant career success since moving to Los Angeles two years ago, and RCA Records recording artists Next Town Down, an up-and-coming R&B group that includes Christopher Eisenberg, who began working with Jacobs at the age of 8 and performed with WBTT for many years.
Other featured artists include Ariel Blue, Michael Mendez, Leon S. Pitts II and Sheldon Rhoden. Guests can expect to hear excerpts from many of WBTT’s original musicals, featuring songs by artists such as Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Harry Belafonte, Jackie Wilson, The Supremes and other audience favorites.
Being honored at the event with Heart & Soul Philanthropy Awards are dedicated supporters Michael and Karen Gardiner, and Dr. Randall and Karen Morgan. Co-chairs for the evening’s festivities are Carolyn Michel and Lois Watson.
The evening will also include updates on the organization’s Heart & Soul Capital Campaign and theater renovation, and a preview of an upcoming WEDU documentary about Jacobs and WBTT.
"It is difficult for me to express how it feels to be here after 20 years — some years without a theater of our own, some years on the brink of having to close the organization down — and be where we are today," said Jacobs. "We’ve enjoyed years of sold-out shows, we’re on the brink of closing our $8 million capital campaign, and about to open a newly-renovated, state-of-the-art theater building. I am so grateful to everyone who believed in me and my vision, and contributed in some way to our current success. We can’t wait to celebrate that success with everyone on November 18th!"