2017 cast returns for 2019 Motown Christmas

Brian L. Boyd (foreground), Michael Mendez (back, left) and Leon S. Pitts II are featured in the 2019 production of “A Motown Christmas” which will be performed at Sarasota Opera Hose while renovations continue at the WBTT theater.

SARASOTA – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe invites the community to ring in the holidays with its exuberant musical revue, “A Motown Christmas.”

The production was created by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs and had its world premiere in 2015, with a repeat performance in 2017.

The show features some favorite traditional carols as well as many original Christmas songs written and recorded by Motown's most celebrated artists, such as The Jackson 5, The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.

As the WBTT theater will be getting the final touches on its extensive theater renovations, the show will be performed at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota.

Show dates are Dec. 4-6 and 18-20; all performances are at 7:30 p.m.

“I think Motown Christmas will offer a unique holiday experience people won't see elsewhere during the holiday season – our talented cast will sing the spirit of the season from their hearts, for all to enjoy,” Jacobs said. “WBTT has so much to be grateful for this holiday season, as we embark on our 20th season and prepare to perform in our renovated, state-of-the-art theater.”

The director is Jacobs, who also performs in the production. The cast includes Tarra Conner jones, Michael Mendez, Leon S. Pitts II, Ariel Blue, Brian L. Boyd, Jai Shanae, Stephanie Zandra, Raleigh Mosely II, Brentney Stephens, Ruthgena Augustin, Samuel Waite, Henry Washington, and dancers Donald Frison, Derric Gobourne Jr., Chakara Rosa and Joshua Thompson. Music director is James E. Dodge II; live band is Dodge on bass; Michael Andrews, drums; Todd Bellamy, piano; and Brennan Stylez, auxiliary keys. Scenic design by Michael Newton-Brown. Choreographer is Donald Frison. Lighting designer is Michael Pasquini. Production stage manager is Juanita Munford. Property master is Annette Breazeale. Sound engineer is Patrick Russini. Wardrobe manager is Adrienne Pitts. Wig designer is Travis McCue.

“We are very much looking forward to presenting this holiday production to the community,” said executive director Julie Leach. “Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as an African American-owned record label that achieved significant crossover success. Our mission is to promote and celebrate the African-American experience – showcasing the incredible music of Motown supports our mission and will have audiences on their feet!”

“A Motown Christmas” is not included in the WBTT season subscription. Tickets are $15-$75 (plus applicable ticket fees); students and active duty military (ages 25 and under, with valid ID) eligible for 50 percent off adult ticket price. Call the box office at 941-366-1505 or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.

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