Tag "Westcoast Black Theater Troupe"

  • Interview with Cecil Washington Jr.

    3-22-16 Interview

    Actor, dancer, singer Cecil Washington Jr. and his middle school friends were fooling around with a video camera, pretending to act out a movie. When Cecil saw himself on film he was hooked. The feeling in his body told him that this was what he was meant to do. But since he was skilled in math and science and his parents wanted him to be a doctor – he put his dream of being an actor aside. In college (while majoring in pre-health) he happened to see a call for auditions for a show – Cecil got that same feeling in his body and although he’d had no training went to audition. Listen to Cecil tell the story of that audition; of his re discovered his need to perform and the startling surprise discovery of gifts he hadn’t known he had. Finally Cecil accepted his destiny and changed his major. Come see the result of his powerful belief in what he was meant to do as he stars as Sam Cooke in the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s production of Sam Cooke Story.

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  • Audio Interview with Robert Douglas

    2-9-16 Interview

    Robert Douglas fell in love with acting when, at 8 years old, he saw a production of Raisin in the Sun. He identified so strongly with the character of Walter Lee Younger that began to inhabit the character of Walter Lee and believe that it was his job “to tell Walter Lee’s story. “ And when he saw Lady Sings the Blues he researched and fell in love with Billie Holliday’s music. These events lead him to pursue the world of characters and stories. Listen to this passionate, articulate man talk about his journey. If you saw him in the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe’s production of The Whipping Man – you already know how talented an actor he is. Come and get another opportunity to see him at work in the WBTT production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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  • Interview with Tarra Conner jones and Ira Lee Collins

    6-30-15 Audio Interview

    In this show I am airing my interview with singer, actor Tarra Conner jones who was last seen in Sarasota in the West Coast Black Theater Troupes production of The Black Nativity. When she was 11 or 12 years old Tarra’s pastor encouraged her to sing a solo in church. Until that moment she hadn’t thought much about her voice but when she saw the impact her singing had on the congregation, she knew that she was meant to sing. Listen to the roller coaster ride Tarra has taken to finally find herself doing what she was “always meant to do.” And come watch her do it in the West Coast Black Theater Troupes production of The Cotton Club Cabaret opening July 10th.

    In this show I am also airing excerpts from Ira Lee Collins’ cabaret performance of The Gay Geezer. Unfortunately I lost the interview I did with this talented, funny, wise man. But I was able to get these pieces of his delightful performance and in honor of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to make same–sex marriage legal in all states, I am playing the courageous – almost octogenarian – Ira Lee Collins, in which he talks charmingly, poignantly and comically about a life in which he struggled to accept and embrace his sexual identity. If you want more information about Ira Lee you can contact SUSAN L. SCHULMAN (212) 921-4344 www.schulmanpublicity.com.

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  • Interview with Actor, Michael Mendez

    2-10-15 Audio Interview

    Singer, dancer, actor, bilingual Michael Mendez didn’t intend to be a performer, he just loved to sing and wanted to get better and better at it. So he said yes to a role in Chorus Line thinking that doing it would strengthen him as a singer. He was completely unprepared for the dancing required but Michael always wants to be “going for growth” and so, helped by the early martial arts training which gave him flexibility, he just learned all the routines. And that was only the beginning, listen to Michael describe his journey from a boy who just loved to sing to a “23 year old aspiring artist who is making a living with his art.” And come see him in the musical, Violet at the Players Theater (2/11-3/1 2015), and his solo performance at the West Coat Black Theater Troupe theater (3/2/2015).

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  • Interview with Chuck Smith

    1-27-15 Audio Interview

    As a boy director Chuck Smith felt his family’s distress when his uncle, a Merchant Marine, was lost at sea. Chuck decided that he wanted to matter as much as his beloved uncle and, as soon as possible, enlisted in the Marines, believing that he would spend his life in the service. After two tours Chuck decided to check out civilian life but he found it boring and was just about to re-up when friends asked him to stand in for an actor who had dropped out of a play which was just about to open a local Community Theater. Chuck had no experience of, or even any interest in the theater – in fact he was insulted to be to be asked – after all he was “a military man!” But he agreed to help out his friends. The reaction he got from the audience when he came out for his bow changed his life. Today Chuck, who is dedicated to expanding the reach of African American theater, is a resident director at Chicago’s prestigious Goodman Theater and is a freelance director anywhere that African American theater is growing. Currently he directed a production of Knock me a Kiss written by his friend playwright Charles Smith, for the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe.. Listen to this unusual man tell his unusual story, and come out to see this interesting play which runs through February 8th

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  • Interview with Harry Bryce Part 2

    10-28-2014 Audio Interview

    Poet, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Director, Harry Bryce is the former artistic director of Memphis Black Repertory Theater, and creator of the Harry Bryce Dance Company and Choreographer in residence for Vinnette Carroll’s theater co, taught dance and theater at Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges Harry says that he came out of the womb dancing. And when you talk to him you can well believe it. Wise beyond his years Harry began writing poetry (although he didn’t know it was poetry) when he was a young boy in order to “stay sane.” He couldn’t take ballet lessons like his older sister because boys simply didn’t do that; but when she came home from her lesson his sister would take him into the back yard and do the lesson again for him. By the time they were ten years old Harry and his sister were a popular dance act appearing at local weddings and events. Listen to this exuberant, reflective man talk about his life and his work – which is currently directing the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s ground breaking production of the comedy horror rock musical Little Shop of Horrors.

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  • Interview with Harry Bryce Part 1

    10-21-14 Audio Interview

    Poet, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Director, Harry Bryce is the former artistic director of Memphis Black Repertory Theater, and creator of the Harry Bryce Dance Company and Choreographer in residence for Vinnette Carroll’s theater co, taught dance and theater at Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges Harry says that he came out of the womb dancing. And when you talk to him you can well believe it. Wise beyond his years Harry began writing poetry (although he didn’t know it was poetry) when he was a young boy in order to “stay sane.” He couldn’t take ballet lessons like his older sister because boys simply didn’t do that; but when she came home from her lesson his sister would take him into the back yard and do the lesson again for him. By the time they were ten years old Harry and his sister were a popular dance act appearing at local weddings and events. Listen to this exuberant, reflective man talk about his life and his work – which is currently directing the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s ground breaking production of the comedy horror rock musical Little Shop of Horrors.

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  • Interview with Sheldon Rodin

    7-15-14 –  Audio Interview

    By popular demand Sheldon Rodin is reprising his role as the iconic performer Marvin Gaye in the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s next production, Marvin Gaye – the Man and his Music. Sheldon clearly remembers the very first time he sang in public. He was six years old and singing in front of his church congregation. He sang with his eyes closed, simply concentrating on the song. When he opened his eyes he was surprised to see the reaction of the congregation – they were smiling. Sheldon can still remember the delicious feeling of bringing a smile to the faces of his audience. Today he is still motivated by his desire to use his gift to make people smile. Listen to this thoughtful young man talk about his intention to bring pleasure and joy wherever he can, and to strive always to be better. And come to see Marvin Gaye – the Man and his Music and let Sheldon put a smile on your face.

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  • Interview with Harry Bryce – Part 2

    4-29-14 Audio Interview Part 2

    Poet, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, and Director Harry Bryce says that he came out of the womb dancing. And when you talk to him you can well believe it. Precocious and wise beyond his years Harry began writing poetry (although he didn’t know it was poetry) when he was a young boy in order to “stay sane.” Curious and observant as few are, Harry began to notice everything. It became important to him to be “precise,” so he recognized the variation in the hues of different colors – and wondered about what happened to a seed. He couldn’t take ballet lessons like his older sister because ”boys didn’t do that;” but when she came home from her lesson his sister would take him into the back yard and do the lesson again for him. By the time they were ten years old Harry and his sister were a popular dance act appearing at local weddings and events. Harry went on to have a varied and productive career as the artistic director of Memphis Black Repertory Theater and creator of the Harry Bryce Dance Company, Choreographer in Residence for the prestigious Vinnette Carroll’s theater company and as professor of dance and theater at Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges. Currently Harry is directing the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe of Sarasota’s production of Bubbling Brown Sugar. Listen to this charming, delightful and reflective man talk about his career and the importance of helping young people who have been discouraged to find and nurture their particular talents. And come to see his direction of the scintillating Bubbling Brown Sugar.

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  • Interview with Harry Bryce

    Audio Interview April 22, 2014

    Poet, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, and Director Harry Bryce says that he came out of the womb dancing. And when you talk to him you can well believe it. Precocious and wise beyond his years Harry began writing poetry (although he didn’t know it was poetry) when he was a young boy in order to “stay sane.” Curious and observant as few are, Harry began to notice everything. It became important to him to be “precise,” so he recognized the variation in the hues of different colors – and wondered about what happened to a seed. He couldn’t take ballet lessons like his older sister because ”boys didn’t do that;” but when she came home from her lesson his sister would take him into the back yard and do the lesson again for him. By the time they were ten years old Harry and his sister were a popular dance act appearing at local weddings and events. Harry went on to have a varied and productive career as the artistic director of Memphis Black Repertory Theater and creator of the Harry Bryce Dance Company, Choreographer in Residence for the prestigious Vinnette Carroll’s theater company and as professor of dance and theater at Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges. Currently Harry is directing the West Coast Black Theater Troupe of Sarasota’s production of Bubbling Brown Sugar. Listen to this charming, delightful and reflective man talk about his career and the importance of helping young people who have been discouraged to find and nurture their particular talents. And come to see his direction of the scintillating Bubbling Brown Sugar.

     

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  • Interview with Howard Millman

    1-21-14 Audio Interview

    Howard Millman understood very young that he belonged in the theater, but his first generation immigrant parents couldn’t see how he could make a living in the theater, so to assuage their concern he majored in pre-law in university. A request from a professor that he take a role in a play led to the professor confirming that he “was an actor.” This confirmation gave him the courage to change his major – the very next day – from pre-law to theater, assuring his parents that he could ”always teach.” In some ways it seems as if Howard had a guardian angel sweeping his path; listen to the ironic way he lucked into directing plays for the army and then directing school plays as the Dramatic Consultant Prince Georges County Maryland. But it was a job as Civilian Entertainment Director for the United States Army that showed him his managerial abilities, and he used those skills many times to rescue theaters from the brink of disaster. Now in retirement at 82 years old, he is able to pursue his real passion, which is directing, and to “pick his projects.” His current “pick” is The Whipping Man, which he directed for the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe in Sarasota FL. Listen to Howard talk about this extraordinary play.

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  • Interview with Jim Weaver

    12-3-13 – Audio Interview

    Jim Weaver always knew that he was a performer. He knew that it would be challenging but nonetheless knew that it would allow him a kind of self expression that he yearned for. He still remembers the night his Dad took the family backstage to meet James Brown, who picked up six year old Jim and put him on his knee. That event; the lights, the cables, and the way he felt, stayed with him stayed with him. When he was ten he asked his parents for acting lessons and to his surprise they said yes. By the time he was sixteen he’d gotten an agent and his first Broadway show. Over the years he graduated to directing and you can see his work at the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe production of Purlie.

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  • Interview with Nate Jacobs, Part 2

    October 13, 2009

    Interview – The second half of my interview with Nate Jacobs, in which he tells the story or his mission to create a theater company with and for “people who look like me.” I also interview another founding member of the troupe delightful, 28 year old Leon Pitts, who began to work with Nate when he was 9 years old, and who had no plans for his life until Nate convinced him to audition for a part and it was “lights, camera, action from then on.”

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  • Interview with Nate Jacobs, Part 1

    October 06, 2009

    Interview –The first half of my Interview with Nate Jacobs, Founder and Creative Director of the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe. Nate’s story is of a man who took a long time to believe what everyone was telling him – that he was a talented singer, dancer, actor, and story teller. For many years he told himself that “they were just being nice.” In this half of his interview Nate tells the often hilarious tale of his discovery and acceptance of himself and what it forced him to do with his life I also play an interview with gregarious and talented 26 year old Tsadok Porter, a founding member of the Troupe who began working with Nate when she was 5 years old.

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