Monday, August 29, 2011

An Open Letter to Nate Jacobs and West Coast Black Theatre Troupe

To the Founder and Artistic Director of the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) Nate Jacobs, cast members, musicians, and all others who have been involved in the presentation of the many shows I have seen over the past several years. 

Watching WBTT grow to maturity has been an awesome experience that could never be duplicated.  I’m blessed to have been exposed to the cultural arts in such an enjoyable way.  Needless to say how much of an education I received for which one could not place a dollar value.  I lament for those who have never taken advantage of attending a WBTT performance, whether or not they reside nearby to Sarasota or at a very slight distance away like St. Petersburg and Tampa; anyone residing anywhere in the Tampa Bay area should make a point to attend … even if it means getting a group together.  In fact, attending as a group makes the entire occasion into a festive event.

This last Friday, August 19th, I arranged a group to attend the final show for the 2011 summer season, “Dynamic Duets.”   We also were fortunate to have seen the first show “The Soul Crooners” back in July.  Those were two outstanding musical shows that you presented for the summer season…and what a season!  It was while watching “Dynamic Duets” that the realization came upon me that I had attended just about every show for the last six or seven years.

Allow me to share with my readers some of the fantastic shows WBTT have brought to Tampa Bay.  My list won’t necessarily be in the order of presentation, but only as I recall them, starting with “The Motown 60’s Revue”, “The Mills Brothers”, “Jar the Floor”, “Sistas in the Name of Soul”, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “Marvin Gaye, The Prince of Soul – The Man and His Music”,

“Mahalia, Just As I Am”, and Hi De, Hi De Ho! Cab Calloway.”  And then, I can remember “The Piano Lesson”, Black Nativity”, “All Night Strut”, “The Wiz”, and “One Mo’ Time.”  These were shows held at the Gompertz Theatre long before you moved into your current home.  Oh yea, Nate, neither can I forget August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winner “Fences”, “Woman from the Town”, “Nobody: The Bert Williams Story” or Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies.”

By the way … Nate, your conceived character “Aunt Rudele” blew our minds.  In fact, my daughter flew in from Maryland just to meet your famous and funny aunt.  We’re still laughing about Herbert, Aunt Rudele’s hen-pecked husband, and her famous Rudele’s Fried Chicken.  I also remember WBTT doing “A Soldier’s Play” to commemorate Black History Month – 2008.  That’s when you were performing at the Historic Asolo Theatre.  Haven’t we come a long way?” Oh my, I almost forgot the cast presentation of Zora Neale Hurstons’s “Spunk.”  For your info, I went on to learn more about this extremely talented playwright, essayist, and accomplished anthropologist who also wrote short stories. 

Although I could continue, I do want to comment on some members of the cast who I’ve watched bloom into unique young adults, some leaving for bigger things.  It makes me proud to say “Yes, I know them (almost) personally.”  For instance, 13-year old Chris Eisenberg, a finalist on America’s Got Talent - 2010, Theresa Stanley who appeared in the Broadway cast of “Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple” and went on national tour of Rock of Ages.  And, finally last week I watched as Mikeyy Mendez and Alyssa Moneyse White demonstrated their unique talents.  Mendez exuded total confidence and sang his heart out, while Alyssa who I first noticed when she was a mere 11years of age, seemed to be saying “Move over ladies, I’m back!”  Nate and cast, please don’t misunderstand, I can’t include everyone because of the lack of column space, but trust me, I’m a fan of all of YOU…and love you much! 

Season 2011 – 2012 begins with the World Premiere of “Love Sung In The Key of Aretha” (Dec. 14 – Jan. 16).  Count on me being there!  Tickets can be obtained online at:
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Remember to “Keep Jazz Alive” by “Supporting Live Jazz!”
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