Dreams don’t always come true. But sometimes they lead to new dreams.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is exploring the concept of the American Dream in its upcoming season, showcasing stories of people scratching and clawing for their own success.
WBTT will present four plays — “Guys and Dolls,” “Flyin’ West,” “Dream Girls” and “Big Sexy: The Fats Waller Revue” — during its upcoming season. And it will bring back “Black Nativity,” a holiday show based on the poetry of Langston Hughes.
It’s the 23rd season for WBTT, and Nate Jacobs, the founder and artistic director, is excited to explore themes that impact the community and the world.
“For our 2022-2023 season, we have adopted the theme 'American Dreams,'” Jacobs says in a press release. “From musical dreams to hopes for better lives in new settlements on the American frontier, this season is a testament to brave souls who broke new artistic and literal ground. And the music, which hails from a variety of genres and eras, is certain to inspire audiences in the WBTT theatre next season.”
The new season will begin in October, opening with blockbuster hit “Guys and Dolls,” which won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Musical. The WBTT production will be directed by Jim Weaver, and it’s scheduled to run from Oct. 5 to Nov. 20.
“Black Nativity” has been a big hit for WBTT in seasons past, but it moved on to experiment with a new holiday show in “Joyful! Joyful!” last season. “Black Nativity” pairs gospel, blues, spirituals and Christmas music with poetry by Hughes and panache by WBTT. Jacobs will direct “Black Nativity” personally, and it will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23.
The next show on the schedule, “Flyin' West,” was originally scheduled for the 2019-20 season. The Black women who leave the south and settle in Kansas.
Chuck Smith will direct the show, which will run from Jan. 4 to Feb. 12, 2023.
The final two acts of the schedule bring high-energy musicals to life on stage. “Dreamgirls” is about the rise of a fictional Motown group from obscurity to the park of success, and it won six Tony Awards and four Drama Desk awards in its original Broadway production. Jacobs will direct “Dreamgirls," which will run from Feb. 22 through April 9.
The final show of the season centers on jazz legend Fats Waller, and it’s an original tribute created and directed by Jacobs. The show includes many Waller staples including “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” and it will run from April 19 through May 28.
“As we — hopefully — continue to move toward normal operations, it is our honor and pleasure to present works that shine a spotlight on actual and fictional African American artists and historical figures,” says WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “This is a theatre season that pulls together quality drama, flashes of comedy and amazing music; we look forward to sharing it with returning and new patrons.”