Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announced its 2020-21 season Monday evening, with brief performances onstage to serve as sneak peeks of what’s to come. Artistic director Nate Jacobs introduced each show title before each performance highlight, and, in a WBTT tradition, supporters in the audience at the “Hush! Hush!” event then raised their hands to pick the shows they wanted to sponsor.
Back to a more usual season timeline, after this season’s later start due to extensive renovation of the theater building, the 2020-21 production schedule kicks off Oct. 7 with Broadway in Black, an original revue by Jacobs first seen in the summer of 2017. The reprise production will allow regular season subscribers to see the show, which offers songs from award-winning shows that helped launch the careers of such stars as Melba Moore in Purlie, Ben Vereen in Pippin, Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls and Nell Carter in Ain’t Misbehavin.’ That show runs through Nov. 22; each show this season has a week added to the length of WBTT’s past runs.
Coming up next is another musical, one of the first shows staged by WBTT in its 21-year history: Eubie, a revue of songs by black Broadway pioneer Eubie Blake, who wrote the music for such standards as “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Directed by Jim Weaver, Eubie takes to the stage Jan. 6 through Feb. 21, 2021.
A drama by playwright Dominique Morisseau is up next. Pipeline tells the story of a dedicated inner-city public high school teacher who wants to give her son opportunities her students will never have. When he’s threatened with expulsion, she’s confronted with his rage and her own choices as a parent. Pipeline will run March 3 through April 11.
Closing out the regular season will be the popular musical revue Smokey Joe’s Café, showcasing the music and lyrics of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote such hits as “Stand by Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Love Potion No. 9” and many more. In all, 40 songs fill this production, running April 21 through June 6 and directed by Jacobs.
In addition to the regular season, WBTT patrons can also purchase separate tickets to the annual holiday production, which this year is Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity, Dec. 2-27, also on the WBTT stage.
Current subscribers can review their subscriptions beginning May 4 by mail. Individual ticket sales and subscriptions for new subscribers go on sale Aug. 3. For more information, head to westcoastblacktheatre.org.