The announcement was made at the group’s annual Hush Hush Season Announcement & Cocktail Reception Feb. 12 at Westcoast Black Theatre.
The past few years have been a turning point for Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. And after raising more than $5 million in its capital campaign (the goal of which is $6 million), the theater company is ready to dedicate its next season to its recent success.
Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs announced at the Hush Hush Season Announcement & Cocktail Reception on Feb. 12 that the 2018-2019 season will be dubbed “The Command Season,” during which the company will return to several old favorites and celebrate many original works by Jacobs.
The regular season, which runs from October 2018 through the end of April 2019, will feature “Raisin (The Musical),” “Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul,” “The Amen Corner,” and “Love Sung in the Key of Aretha.” The holiday show will be “Black Nativity” and the 2018 summer show is Nate Jacobs' original “Rockin’ Down Fairytale Lane.”
Here’s a brief breakdown of the main stage productions for the 2018-2019 season.
“Raisin (The Musical)”: This show is the musical version of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which is one of the company’s most-requested dramas. The setting is 1950s Southside Chicago and follows a working-class black family’s attempts to better their life after the death of their father. The production was one of the first African American shows to appear on Broadway and was nominated for nine Tony Awards. Runs from Oct. 3 to Nov. 11, 2018.
“Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul”: Sheldon Rhoden will reprise the role of Marvin Gaye in the company’s third run of this original show written by Nate Jacobs. Featuring some of Gaye’s greatest hits, the show opens at the start of his career in the 1950s and follows his journey through the industry until his death in the mid-1980s. Runs Nov. 28, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019.
“The Amen Corner”: Sister Margaret Alexander is a charismatic Christian who inspires her Harlem congregation. But she risks losing both her standing in the church and her son when her estranged husband comes home to die. The production follows playwright James Baldwin’s life story. WBTT resident director Chuck Smith returns to Sarasota to direct this show, which was the first show with an all-black cast that Jacobs directed after moving to Sarasota in the ‘80s. Runs Jan. 23 through March 3, 2019.
“Love Sung in the Key of Aretha”: Four women recap their life experiences through the legendary songs of Aretha Franklin in this musical revue. The four women are in different stages of life, but they connect through their dealings with new love, lost love and the search for love. Runs March 20 through April 28, 2019.
“Black Nativity”: This popular holiday show is back, and it includes gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music paired with the poetry of Langston Hughes to tell the Nativity story. This limited engagement will run for four nights at the Sarasota Opera House, which Jacobs says he’s particularly excited about because the company has never performed a main stage production at the opera house. Shows are Dec. 12, 13, 19 and 20, 2018.
Jacobs says he’s particularly excited to workshop “Love Sung in the Key of Aretha” because the piece has been done previously by WBTT as “Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul” has, but “Marvin” has been done more often and thus got fine tuned. He looks forward to tweaking “Aretha” and getting it just right for the 2019 audience.
Both “Marvin” and “Aretha” are original works by Jacobs, so he says this season is also unusual in that it’s a return of several favorite shows with many in-house productions amongst them.
“We’ve found that patrons really love original music,” Jacobs says. “So I look forward to performing for people who haven’t seen our homegrown shows.”
For information, call the Box Office at 366-1505 or visit the WBTT website, westcoastblacktheatre.org.