WBTT's Young Artist Program Opens Season With Derric Gobourne Jr.

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WBTT's Young Artist Program Opens Season With Derric Gobourne Jr.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to present the seventh year of its annual Young Artist Program, through which Troupe members are able to showcase their talents with self-produced, one-person shows. The first Young Artist showcases of the 2019-2020 season, featuring popular WBTT artist Derric Gobourne Jr., take place Sunday, March 15 (this show is sold out) and Monday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.

In "The Greatest Entertainer," Gobourne will perform songs made famous by many of the world's greatest showmen, including Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown, and many more as well as some of his original music. The show will also feature Gobourne's amazing dance moves.

Young Artist Program showcases take place at the newly-renovated WBTT theater, located at 1012 N. Orange Ave. in Sarasota. Tickets are $25 general admission; sponsor tickets, which include reserved preferred seating and playbill recognition, are $102 (prices include applicable ticket fees). Call the Box Office at 941-366-1505 or purchase tickets online at westcoastblacktheatre.org.

Gobourne's first experience with WBTT was when he was recruited to be a back-up dancer in Alyssa White's Young Artist Program showcase in 2013. He made his debut appearance in a WBTT production as the talented little Stevie Wonder in "Best of Stevie Wonder" in the summer of 2014. Since then, he has appeared in WBTT's productions of "Black Nativity," "Raisin," "A Motown Christmas," "In the Heights," "Soul Man" and "Rockin' Down Fairytale Lane," among others. Last summer he appeared in WBTT's production of "Soul Man" at the National Black Theatre Festival.

A graduate of Manatee High School and a self-taught musician, Gobourne - who has known he wanted to dance since the age of 5, when he first saw Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video - has set his sights on becoming the greatest entertainer of all time. In June 2018, Gobourne released his debut album, "Supremacy," which was re-released in Japan in November 2018 under the P-Vine record label. The album is available on every digital platform, including iTunes, YouTube, Spotify and Google Play Music.

WBTT's Young Artist Program, part of its education programming, was created to support, develop and showcase the talents of young, aspiring artists of color. The Young Artist Program offers company members the opportunity to develop and present an original production. All proceeds from the show are given to the presenting artist to be used to further their artistic and professional development.

"Derric is an artist with incredible talent and an even bigger personality, who lights up the stage every time he performs," said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs, who assists the young artists in developing and directing their presentations. "He has been disciplined and determined in taking his raw natural talent and learning new dance techniques and styles as well as honing his acting and singing skills. The future is very bright for this talented young man."

Since its inception, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has mentored and inspired many African-American youth through their participation in the company's productions. Many of the aspiring professional artists trained in the organization's performing arts program have gone on to work with regional and national companies. One of WBTT's fan favorites, Christopher Eisenberg, was signed by Sony/ATV in 2016 as part of pop group Next Town Down; the group is currently achieving success with RCA Records. WBTT founding member Teresa Stanley has two Broadway hit shows under her belt. And Naarai Jacobs - frequent WBTT performer and the daughter of Nate - has worked with world-famous artists including Beyoncé, Pharrell, Kanye West and Logic.

"While Nate is available to consult, our Young Artist Program participants are responsible for writing their own script, the song choices, costumes, choreography, promotions and other crucial elements of the business," said Julie Leach, WBTT's executive director. "This is just one way that our organization advances its mission of developing young artists. We feel strongly about investing in the performers who work with us in order to further their career opportunities."

For more information or tickets to WBTT's season of shows, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.



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