“The show was 94% sold out before it even opened Wednesday. It was popular two years ago; Nate Jacobs the Artistic Director brought it back and did a second version of it. Its four guy’s singing and dancing for two hours, doing the music of the 70’s and it is a hot, hot show – lots of fun.” – Christine Jennings; CEO WBTT
Love Crooners is what I would call the show, since all the songs were love songs, or was it just the way these talented men sing the words with such passion and articulation you can feel the love.
Walking through the theater doors at 7:30pm, I am greeted by Christine Jennings; CEO of WBTT. Jennings’ personality is bright and as classy as her all white Michael Kors jump suit. Not only is she the CEO, she is shaking my hand and greeting everyone who walks through the door – clearly she loves what she does.
Most plays or musicals, you can hear the music, but don’t get to see the musicians perform. What impresses me, is how the stage positions the musicians as part of the show. The costumes by Cristy Ownen; as usual sharp; white with blue trim suits in the first half and sequined jackets, white pants, a black belt with a hint of bling and shiny black shoes closes the show.
This isn’t just music, the choreography perfectly planned to not only show that the talent can sing, but they can dance in a way that engages the viewer and makes you laugh. Mike Rosario; Secretary WBTT Board of Trustees tells me, “I love this theatre it’s like being in a large living room and everyone becomes a part of it, that’s the beauty. The stage is so close to you, it really gets you involved in the show, its great energy.”
You’re guided through a musical journey from the late 60’s and 70’s by a smooth talking well dressed young man; Emmanuel Avraham, who at the end of the night went thanks everyone personally in the front row during the closing song, another way WBTT personalize their shows and stand out from the rest. At the end of each show the talent lines up and greets each and every patron as they walk out the door genuinely thanking them for coming to the show. Even after two hours of straight singing and dancing with one fifteen minute intermission, these men still have smiles and energy to extend; perhaps they are running on adrenaline. I overheard one of the singers say, “It’s easy to give back to the crowd when they are giving to you.”
The lineup of songs is soulful and performed with meaning, heartfelt by each individual singer, one singer in particular stands out, Leon S. Pitts II. He makes me crack a smile laugh out loud and truly understand the lyrics when he sings. He’s very good at finding a few people in the first few rows, catching their eye and singing directly to them, making a connection that makes everyone feel good. I look forward to his solos.
During the song ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy,’ Music Director; James E. Dodge, who happens to be the only white guy on stage is pointed out and asked to stand while the Soul Crooners dance to the beat of his funky guitar solo, a magical moment! Audience members dance in their seats and at times get up and groove, proving that bringing back Soul Crooners is a winner.
A highlight for all that attended this show: Nate Jacobs, Director/Choreographer for WBTT is one of the four Soul Crooners performing, allowing him to shine and perform in the forefront rather than behind the scenes. My favorite songs; ‘If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right,’ performed by Nate Jacobs, and ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time,’ performed by Chris Eisenberg.
As I was leaving the theater I heard a woman say, “It’s too bad more people don’t support this theatre.” If you haven’t been to WBTT you are missing out on some major talent. After living in Sarasota for eight years, I recently went to my first show and I am glad I did. Soul Crooners 2 runs through March 24, 2013, tickets are $29.50 and can be purchased online at wbttsrq.org or by calling the box office 941.366.1505.
NATE JACOBS (Creator/Director/Singer)
- EMMANUEL AVRAHAM
- CHRISTOPHER EISENBERG
- MICHAEL MENDEZ
- LEON S. PITTS II
- JAMES (JAY) E. DODGE, II (Music Director/Production Manager)
- CRISTY OWEN (Costume Designer)