In Sarasota this time of year, hundreds of fans celebrate “A Motown Christmas” with the singers and dancers of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
Now a Fort Worth, Texas, theater is getting into the act.
The Jubilee Theatre, which licensed Nate Jacobs’s show, has been performing “A Motown Christmas” to packed houses since Thanksgiving.
“This show has broken every record for us,” said Christie Howard, managing director of the Jubilee Theatre. “We’ve had to add three encore performances. By the time the show is finished, it will be seen by 4,500 people.”
For Jacobs, who created the musical and founded the Westcoast troupe, this is joyful news for the holidays.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see,” he said. “I was kind of taken aback. You know, wow, my shows are getting picked up.”
Last year, some Norwegian Cruise Line ships began performing 30-minute cabaret shows that Jacobs created. One is called the “The ’70s Hit Parade,” while the other is “The Soulful Love Revue.”
Now his Christmas program is drawing crowds in north Texas.
The show features holiday standards as recorded by the stars of Motown Records, along with original Christmas songs written by legends such as Smokey Robinson.
There is some music history, along with comic patter, but the heart of the show is the Motown sound beloved by black theater audiences.
“It’s textbook Jubilee,” said Howard. “This was meant for our stage and our patrons.”
“A Motown Christmas” debuted in 2015 at the Westcoast Black Theatre in Sarasota.
Jacobs was looking for a holiday change of pace. The theater had been performing “Black Nativity,” written by Langston Hughes, which features gospel music and opens and closes with “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
The “Motown” show is more commercial and hip. For the last couple of seasons, Jacobs has been alternating between the two shows during the holidays.
Jacobs started with the title, which comes from a 1973 double album that featured such acts as Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and The Temptations. The opening song was The Jackson Five rocking through “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.”
This year’s run of “A Motown Christmas,” which continues through Dec. 23, will include 28 performances. This means seven shows a week for four weeks.
“That’s a lot of Christmas joy,” Jacobs joked. “It’s been sold out for quite a while.”