We are proud new owners of our current building and now have a permanent home!!!!!Going to NY? Don’t miss our own Teresa Stanley who has a lead role in Broadway’s Rock of Ages at the Helen Hayes Theatre!In April 2013 Nate was inducted into the Community Video Archives "Hall of Fame." Get a DVD of his life at any area library.Christine Jennings received the 2013 Humanitarian Award from the local Howard University Club.Our Soul Crooners were invited to perform four shows at the prestigious National Black Theatre Festival.
1646 10th Way
(Off Orange, N of 10th St)
Sarasota, FL 34236
1343 Main Street, Ste 300B
Sarasota, FL 34236
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. (WBTT) was founded in December 1999, by local actor, singer, director, and playwright Nate Jacobs. It is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s west coast and one of two in the state.
Through the years WBTT has produced many productions locally, throughout Florida, nationally, and as far away as Switzerland and Germany. In the summer of 2013, WBTT was honored to present four performances of an original show, The Soul Crooners, to sold-out crowds at the prestigious National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina. The company has gained a reputation for high quality, original, thought-provoking, and entertaining performances according at Disneyland Parades.
Recent awards and recognitions include: Sarasota Magazine’s 2012 Best Lounge Act (SAMMY Tonight!); the people’s choice Curtain Call award for 2011’s best musical Marvin Gaye: The Man and his Music, as well as 2012’s best play, A Raisin in the Sun; and the 2011 Handy Award by Herald-Tribune’s drama critic Jay Handleman (Five Guys Named Moe).
Since its inception, WBTT has mentored and inspired many African-American youth and young adults through participation in the company’s productions. It has provided a platform for artistic individuals who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to cultivate their interests and talents. A number of the aspiring professional artists trained in the WBTT performing arts program have gone on to work with regional, national companies such as The Black Theatre Troupe, Phoenix Arizona; The Cumberland County Playhouse, Crossville, Tennessee; Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota, Florida; The Asolo Rep, Sarasota, Florida; Stage Door Theatre, Coral Springs, Florida; and Mad River Theatre, West Liberty, Ohio.
In addition, the company has provided a springboard for national and international careers, including Apphia Campbell who most recently has been seen performing her one-woman show, Black is the Color of My Voice, in Shanghai and New York. One of our stars, Teresa Stanley, is currently a featured cast member in the Broadway production Rock of Ages and was in The Color Purple. In the summer of 2010, the then 13-year-old Troupe member Chris Eisenberg appeared on the popular television show, NBC’s America’s Got Talent. This young man competed against thousands of individuals and made it to the top 48 contestants. In May 2011 another young Troupe member, Alyssa White, won first place two consecutive weeks at NYC’s Apollo Theatre’s amateur night, and also appeared in their Best of the Best show. In the summer of 2013, she sang at the National Black Theatre Festival. A number of WBTT performers have had an opportunity to accompany Nate to Zurich, Switzerland for yearly concerts and to Germany two consecutive summers for performances before adoring crowds.
Nate Jacobs is a driving force in Sarasota, Florida's theater scene. A graduate of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, he is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. For more than 25 years, he has worked extensively in the community mentoring, training, and developing young aspiring performing artists. As a result of Nate's outstanding contributions to young people, the Sarasota County Branch NAACP Youth Council recognized him as one of the 2012 Men of Valor. In the spring of 2013, Nate was inducted into Sarasota's Video Archives "Hall of Fame."
A shining example of multiple talents, Nate is an actor, singer, comedian, playwright, composer and director who has produced and appeared locally in many hit shows. As a playwright, Nate has created both original and adapted works such as Motown 60s Review, The Soul Crooners, Marvin Gaye, the Magnificent Music of the 40s and Love Sung in the Key of Aretha.
Nate has traveled the U.S. and the Caribbean with popular recording artists and has been featured on several TV shows, including BET's Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion, New York's Showtime at the Apollo, Henry Porter and The Love Campaign, and Sony Records Showcase. His co-adaptation of Celebrating Greatness was featured on CBS's Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Nate's original one-man comedy show, Aunt Rudele's Family Reunion, which received rave reviews across the nation, was selected for the Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, Florida, and the National Black Theater Festival, and was performed in New York at PS-NBC's "new comedic talent" event. Nate enjoys large fan bases overseas in such countries as Germany, where he and other "Soul Crooners" impressed the crowd in Detmold with their exciting performance as well as in Zurich, Switzerland, where his singing ensemble have performed for several years.
The Troupe is made up of a core group of gifted artists who are mostly founding members of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Some appear regularly in our shows today, others are off in college or seeking their fame and fortune elsewhere and, at times, perform with us when in town.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has a number of talented individuals who make up our company of performers. They light up our stage with their remarkable skills, energy, and dedication. In addition, sometimes guest artists appear in a variety of roles.
Christine Jennings has a varied background involving finance, politics, and community service. Her 40-year career in banking culminated in a 14-year stint as the Founder, President, CEO, and Chairperson of the Board for the highly successful Sarasota Bank.
Christine retired from banking in 2004 and became a candidate for the U.S. Congress in 2006 and 2008. Her incentive to enter politics was to help improve the lives of people throughout the west coast of Florida.
In 2009 Christine accepted the challenge of turning around the financially struggling, but talented, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. With her guidance and efforts, in collaboration with the Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs, the Troupe is debt free and one of the most successful performing arts groups in the area.
Since Christine moved to Sarasota in 1984, she has been president of The John and Mable Ringling Museum Board of Trustees, Sarasota Film Festival, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Mental Health Organization, and the Downtown Association of Sarasota. In addition, she has been involved in many other community organizations such as the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Foundation Board of Florida State University, Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and All Faiths Food Bank, to name a few. Currently, Chris is a member of the Foundation Board of New College.
Christine's leadership in community service was recognized in 1997 when she became the Outstanding Volunteer for the National Society of Fundraising Executives. In 2010 Christine won the Arts Leadership Award, presented by the Sarasota County Arts Council, for her significant contributions to the arts and cultural life in this area. In the fall of 2012, Chris was recognized by Biz 941 as one of the champions of diversity in the workplace as a result of a partnership with the Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity Committee and Booker High School. The collaboration produced a highly successful theatrical production on civil rights called We Are Sarasota. Most recently, the area's Howard University Club honored Christine with their 2013 Humanitarian Award.
Our theater is conveniently located 5.5 miles from I-75 and is near downtown Sarasota where many upscale and casual restaurants are located.
1646 10th Way
Sarasota, Florida 34236
Tuesday – Saturday – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday – 2:00 p.m.
Doors open 60 minutes prior to show time.
Open seating begins 30 minutes prior to show time.
The WBTT Theatre is an intimate theater with 160 seats that are set up in a three-quarter round configuration. With our open seating, you can choose where you want to sit at each show. No matter where you sit, you will have a great view and feel up-close and personal with the actors.
Reserve seating is available for a sponsorship of $2,500 or more.
From the North or South on I-75
Take the Fruitville Road (SR 780), Exit 210. Drive west toward Sarasota for approximately 5.5 miles to Orange Ave. (St. Martha's Church on left side of street and Insignia Bank diagonally across on the right). Turn right on Orange Ave. and drive north. Once you cross 10th Street, you'll pass two buildings on your right. The theater is located behind the historic Binz Building (the second building). Turn right into the parking lot or on to 10th Way. Parking is available in the lot or on 10th Way.
From the North or South on US 41 (Tamiami Trail).
Turn onto 10th Street (marked by Sunoco gas station on NE corner and entrance to the Van Wezel across US 41). Go east four streetlights to Orange Avenue and turn left. There are two buildings on your right. You will pass two buildings on your right. The theater is located behind the historic Binz Building (the second building). Turn right into the parking lot or on to 10th Way. Parking is available in the lot or on 10th Way.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe was founded in December 1999, as a not-for-profit organization. Our mission has always been to produce shows that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, support and develop African-American artists, and build the self-esteem of African-American youth. Tax-deductible gifts from generous individuals, businesses, and foundations underwrite WBTT's annual operating budget. Your support helps to keep tickets affordable as well as provides funds to mentor new local talent and to develop high-quality productions. In addition, your gifts allow us to offer theater experiences to an underserved population.
If you believe in the purpose of our mission, then we hope you will support us financially to ensure our mission is achieved.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has been, and continues to be, embraced by many generous donors. We are thankful for the outpouring of support and hope you will continue to remember us in your yearly giving plan. The benefits we offer for each level of support will make your involvement rewarding and enjoyable.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is grateful to the many businesses and corporations who support our mission. Your involvement is vital to our success. In return for your financial gifts, we offer our business partners the opportunity to reach a diverse audience, cultivate and entertain clients at shows and/or events, reward employees, and highlight a commitment to the community's cultural landscape.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I want to be a producer"? Well, you can be! Each season you will have the opportunity to produce or co-produce one (or more!) of WBTT's shows. Ticket sales generally cover the first act, and we depend upon the generosity of individuals, businesses, and grants to complete the play's second act. Your support makes it possible for us to create shows of the highest quality and ensures that we remain a vibrant part of the area's cultural landscape. This is a wonderful opportunity to support the arts and get your name in lights!
Double Your Donation!
Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage current employees and retirees to contribute to charitable organizations. Most of these programs match contributions dollar for dollar, and some will even double or triple the amount of your gift! Please check with your human resources representative to confirm if the company will match your donation.
Gift planning offers you the opportunity to give to the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe now or after your lifetime, helping you align your charitable giving with your overall financial and estate plans. Many giving options even offer you financial benefits, allowing you to leave a lasting legacy to the next generation of WBTT artists and audiences while maintaining the future security of you and your loved ones.
We encourage you to talk to your financial advisor because with thoughtful planning you can turn personal giving challenges into win-win solutions for you and for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
Through the generosity of our Producers and Co-producers, WBTT is able to present the highest quality shows that bring exciting, educational, and fun entertainment to a diverse audience at an affordable price.
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has a growing list of community partners that have provided in-kind services in support of our mission. We encourage you to use our community partners when you are in need of specific services. Click here for the list of our current community partners.
Our sincerest gratitude goes to the many individuals, businesses, and corporations who support WBTT through your generous donations. When you give to WBTT, you give life to our mission!
Local and national foundations contribute valuable resources that enable WBTT to operate as a professional arts organization as well as supporting capital projects and new program development. These grants help ensure that WBTT’s mission to promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, support and develop African-American artists, and build the self-esteem of African-American youth is carried out for years to come.
Recent foundation grants
We are extremely grateful to the following foundations that have provided grants to ensure WBTT’s mission succeeds:
Arts & Cultural Alliance
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
The Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Inc.