‘In the Heat of the Night’ on radio and streaming free
From left, Ryan Vincent Anderson and Travis Johns / Matt Petit

Beginning this Saturday, June 13, the L.A. Theatre Works audio theater recording of John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night, adapted for the stage by Matt Pelfrey, will air on radio stations across the country and be available to stream free on the L.A. Theatre Works website at latw.org/broadcasts.

Ball’s novel was published in 1965, a time when America was grappling with integration and an evolving acceptance of the Civil Rights movement. The sizzling, Edgar Award-winning noir thriller inspired both an Academy Award-winning film starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger and a long-running (1988-1994) television series starring Howard Rollins and Carroll O’Connor.

In 1962, a white man has been murdered on a hot August night in a small town in the deep South, and the local police arrest a Black stranger named Virgil Tibbs. The police soon discover that their suspect is in fact an expert homicide detective from Pasadena. The staunchly racist members of this rural Southern community must come to terms with the fact that Tibbs may be their only hope to help solve the brutal murder that, until now, has turned up no witnesses, no motives and no clues.

The L.A. Theatre Works production, which stars Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, James Morrison, Travis Johns, Darren Richardson and Tom Virtue and was directed by Brian Kite, was recorded during a series of live performances at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater before the cast headed out on a national tour.

“College-educated, well dressed, a respected police officer from California and a Black man, Virgil Tibbs may never have been written into existence were it not for the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” says L.A. Theatre Works associate producer Anna Lyse Erikson. “King was shot dead in his hotel room on April 4, 1968—just six days before In the Heat of the Night was awarded five Oscars at the 1968 Academy Awards ceremony. Now, in 2020, the story seems timelier than ever.” This broadcast is dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In addition to In the Heat of the Night, the L.A. Theatre Works recording of Dinah Was, in which Yvette Freeman reprises her Obie Award-winning role as “Queen of the Blues” Dinah Washington, is now available as a free podcast. Freeman delivers songs Washington rendered unforgettable including “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” “I Wanna Be Loved,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine,” while portraying Washington’s ongoing experiences with racism as she struggled to break into the white show business market in the late 1950s. Hear the recording, free of charge, at latw.org/podcasts.

L.A. Theatre Works is the world’s leading producer of audio theater, offering audiences around the globe free access to state-of-the-art recordings of both contemporary and classic plays, each performed by leading actors of stage and screen. LATW productions are aired weekly by radio stations across the U.S. and internationally. Beginning each Saturday, audiences can stream that week’s broadcast online for free, along with broadcasts from previous weeks. The company’s syndicated radio theater series broadcasts weekly on public radio stations across the U.S., daily in China and worldwide on the Radio Beijing Network; weekly on KCRW Berlin 104,1 FM, Berlin’s English language public radio station. They can also be downloaded as a podcast via iTunes and NPR One.

For more information, go to latw.org.


CONTRIBUTOR

Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.

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