When Nate Brown, founder and artistic director of the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT), went about determining what productions the company would showcase during their 2022-23 season, he had a lot to consider. How would their productions embody what the company stands for? How do they appeal to loyal fans while also breaking ground on new territory? “We had talked about doing something new with a twist, which is kind of our signature. We develop a lot of new pieces because as the WBTT, we are the steward for black American, Caribbean and African culture in the region,” says Brown. “We have a reputation of developing a lot of unique musical revues and stories, because as representatives for a diverse mix of nationalities and races, we have many stories to tell,” he adds. Brown and the minds at WBTT decided upon a season that chronicles the stories of those who sought out their own versions of the American Dream—noting that the universal pursuit for a better life and a better world is more relevant than ever today. The season opener, Guys and Dolls, embodies that thematic tone WBTT has set for the season. “It’s about a group of guys trying to achieve the American dream–through gambling. It’s a microcosm of what we’ve tried to do here and accomplish at WBTT,” says Brown.  The decision to do Guys and Dolls, about as classic a musical as it gets, it won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Musical, was spurred on by the WBTT’s history of making the traditional modern. The director of this season’s production, Jim Weaver, WBTT’s Director of Education and Artistic Associate, was particularly inspired by an all African American version of Guys and Dolls that he saw in person on Broadway in 1976. The production featured Motown-style arrangements of the original showtunes, something that WBTT looks to emulate in this season’s iteration of the musical. “We were initially inspired by the thought of doing a classical musical with a twist,” says Brown.

Westcoast Black Theatre, October 5–November 20, 2022, westcoastblacktheatre.org