Suncoast community, arts events rescheduled due to COVID concerns

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Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 3:47 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A growing list of events along the Suncoast are being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Some of the latest include:

Sarasota Police Department’s KOPS basketball event rescheduled for February:

Due to the increase of COVID cases, the Kids and Officers Promoting Solidarity (KOPS) event scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 5, has been canceled out of an abundance of caution. The change in the schedule is for the health and safety of participants, attendees, and spectators.

The final KOPS event set for Jan. 8, a basketball game between Sarasota Police officers and professional basketball players from the Gulf Coast Lions, is being postponed until Friday, Feb. 11. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex (RLTCC). RLTCC is located at 1845 34th St. The basketball game is free, open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information, please contact the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex at 941-263-6562.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troup delays opening of world-premiere musical, “Ruby”until Jan. 26

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s world-premiere musical “Ruby,” which was originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 season but delayed due to COVID-19, has been pandemic-delayed once again. Due to positive COVID-19 tests among the production crew of WBTT’s holiday show, “Joyful! Joyful!” that show’s final three sold-out performances were canceled and rehearsals for “Ruby” were put on hold in order to follow CDC guidelines for quarantine and retesting. Performances of “Ruby” are now scheduled to begin on Jan. 26.

In addition to delaying the opening of “Ruby,” WBTT has decided to cancel the planned Jan. 17 live performance of its annual “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Celebrating His Legacy” program. Instead, WBTT will offer free streaming video from a previous celebration; the show will be available on its website ( from Jan. 17-31.

“Ruby” is a musical retelling by WBTT founder/artistic director Nate Jacobs and his brother, Michael Jacobs, of the shocking killing of a White doctor in Live Oak, Florida, by a Black woman – Ruby McCollum – who was tried in the case and eventually committed to Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida. The story – which was covered by famed writer Zora Neale Hurston for the Pittsburgh Courier – showcases the disenfranchisement of Black people in segregated Florida as well as the ugly history of white men taking sexual advantage of Black women without repercussions.

Ruby’s is a fascinating, powerful story, one that’s been touched upon in books and documentary films. Now, it will (finally) take the stage live in what promises to be an emotional musical drama. This powerful and haunting musical explores the secrets just beneath the surface of the idyllic, genteel exterior of a quaint Florida town.

“The positive COVID-19 tests in the final days of ‘Joyful! Joyful!’ were certainly disheartening, especially as we were seeing the return of sold-out shows,” says WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach. “But we are determined to be flexible and ready for whatever comes, sticking to our #SafeArtsSarasota protocols and doing what we can to keep putting on shows. The theme of this season is ‘And Still We Rise’ and we are hopeful we will do just that in 2022.”

The book is by Michael Jacobs; music and lyrics are by Nate Jacobs, Michael Jacobs and Brennan Stylez; musical arrangements are by Brennan Stylez and Antonio Wimberly. Nate will direct. Aleah Vassell portrays Ruby McCollum; audiences will recognize numerous returning artists as well as some who are new to the WBTT stage.

The original music is inspired by jazz, gospel and blues, especially as heard in the 1950s era of the story. The majority of songs in the show are original; audiences will also hear the spiritual “Wade in the Water” and the hymn “Shall We Gather at the River.”

“Ruby” runs Jan. 26 to Feb. 27. Tickets are $45/adults, $20/students and active military (plus applicable ticket fees). Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 941-366-1505.

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