Westcoast Black Theater Group Presents World Premiere Musical, ‘Ruby’

Arts & Culture


Standing left to right: Casey Murphy, Aleah Vassell, Brian L. Boyd. Sitting: Eliza Engle, Ariel Blue Photos by Sorcha Augustine.

The world premiere show ‘Ruby’ (which was originally slated for the 2019-20 season but delayed due to COVID-19) is a musical tale by WBTT Founder / Artistic Director Nate Jacobs and his brother, Michael Jacobs, of the shocking murder of a white doctor in Live Oak, Florida by a black woman – Ruby McCollum – who was tried in the case and ultimately interned at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida.
In 1952, when the murder took place, Ruby and her husband, Sam, were quite prosperous for the time and place and highly respected in the community. It was one of their four children – the youngest, Loretta – Ruby McCollum later said he was the product of a forced relationship with the shooting victim, Dr. C. Leroy Adams. McCollum claimed that the reason for the murder was that Adams refused to leave her alone.

But there is more than a real crime to this story, which has become so notorious that famous writer Zora Neale Hurston was sent by the Pittsburgh Courier to cover the trial. In a segregated Florida, where blacks were essentially disenfranchised, unable to sit on juries or hold political office, the history of white men sexually taking advantage of black women without repercussions has been a long one. Ruby’s testimony at trial was limited to excluding much of her defense, and the judge also imposed a gag order on her, preventing any press interviews. Ruby’s is a compelling and powerful story, which has been addressed in books and documentary films. Now he’s (finally) taking the stage in what promises to be a touching musical drama. This powerful and haunting musical explores the secrets just beneath the surface of the idyllic and genteel exterior of a quaint Florida town.

Standing left to right: Casey Murphy, Aleah Vassell, Brian L. Boyd. Sitting: Eliza Engle, Ariel Blue Photos by Sorcha Augustine.

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