Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe invited again to perform at National Black Theatre Festival

Troupe to hold July 26 event at Michael’s on East in effort to raise funds to cover expenses of trip to North Carolina

Music industry upstart ‘Breezy’ (Derric Gobourne Jr.), with ‘Diamond’ (Ariel Blue), gets a musical history lesson in WBTT’s Soul Man. Contributed photo by Vutti Photography

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has received its fourth invitation to perform during the National Black Theatre Festival, which will take place July 29 to Aug. 3 in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Troupe has announced.

WBTT will present Soul Man, a musical revue that WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs created and adapted; the Troupe debuted this show during its 2017-2018 season, a news release points out.

On July 26, prior to the departure of the WBTT contingent for Winston-Salem, the organization will host “a sizzling ‘Soul Man Send-Off Soirée’ at Michael’s On East,” the release adds. Local fans are invited to attend the event, which will feature a “Low Country boil” buffet dinner, full bar and a 45-minute excerpt from Soul Man, the release notes. Tickets are priced at $100, with proceeds to offset festival expenses. The tickets are available at westcoastblacktheatre.org or by calling the box office at 366-1505.

“The music of Soul Man is mined from the 1960s, a time when America was an uneasy place: the battle for civil rights was ongoing, international tensions were at an all-time high, and the country lost President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to assassins’ bullets,” the release explains. “The popular music of the time incorporated emotions and concepts tied to the decade’s social upheaval while offering a hopeful look at better, more peaceful days to come,” the release adds.

Soul Man audiences “will hear some of the most recognizable tunes of the ’60s,” made popular by artists such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sam & Dave, James Brown, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Solomon Burke and Ray Charles, the release points out.

“We could not be more thrilled to be invited back to the National Black Theatre Festival and to bring yet another original production,” said the WBTT’s Jacobs. “In 2013, all four performances of Soul Crooners were sold out. In 2015, we returned to the festival with Soul Crooners 2, and presented How I Got Over in 2017, with critical acclaim and numerous sold-out shows for both,” he continued in the release. “This year we’ll perform Soul Man five times in the 1,900-seat Reynolds Auditorium; our goal is to show the whole world what our theater can do — we aim to do Sarasota very proud!” he added in the release.

“It is a tremendous honor for our organization to enjoy four consecutive invitations to this renowned international event,” said WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach in the release. “Not only does this offer an opportunity to share our work with fans of the theater from around the world, it also provides our most passionate organizational leaders and supporters with the chance to experience a joyful celebration of Black theater and see what other groups are doing. It’s really quite a memorable week!” she added in the release.

The National Black Theatre Festival is the international outreach program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Co., founded in 1979, the release explains. Held biennially since 1989, the festival “attracts thousands of national and international patrons, theater professionals, and scholars,” the release notes. For more information and tickets, go to the festival website.