Ruby cast members Casey Murphy, Aleah Vassell and Brian L. Boyd; (seated) Eliza Engle and Ariel Blue.

The latest casualty for area performing arts groups’ shows due to Covid-19: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s planned world premiere production of Ruby.

WBTT made the announcement Thursday that the musical, which had previously been scheduled for the 2019-20 season, and then postponed to Jan. 12 of this year, will now not open this season at all. Its reset date for opening had been next week.

In a press release, WBTT leaders said that “due to continuing breakthrough positive Covid-19 test results and a few cases among the Ruby cast and crew,” they had made the “difficult decision to cancel” the impending premiere.

Ruby, conceived by WBTT artistic director Nate Jacobs and his brother Michael, and based on the true Florida story of a Black woman who had shot a white doctor decades ago, featured a large cast, and with positive test results and the ensuing cancellations of rehearsals, it became clear that for now, presenting the show was just not on the cards.

WBTT will continue to workshop Ruby, and will also film it as a record of its progress over the next couple of weeks, in the hope that once conditions improve, work on the show can commence again.

Nate Jacobs said, “I am tremendously disappointed that we are not able to present Ruby at this time, but I’m grateful we had the opportunity to move the production further down the road.”

Now, WBTT’s next mainstage production will be Broadway in Black, scheduled to open March 10. The hope is that the highly contagious Omicron variant will have run its course by that time.

The box office will automatically issue refunds to ticket holders. Phone lines (941-366-1505) are staffed. For more info, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.

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