LATW's IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT to Launch National Tour Next Month
It's 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. L.A. Theatre Works presents John Ball's In the Heat of the Night, adapted for the stage by Matt Pelfrey, directed by Brian Kite and starring Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, James Morrison, Travis Johns, Darren Richardson and Tom Virtue. Five performances will be recorded in front of a live audience, with costumes by Carin Jacobs and projections by Sean T. Cawelti, at UCLA's James Bridges Theater Oct. 16 through Oct. 19 to air on L.A. Theatre Works' nationally syndicated radio theater series and for digital download. The performance on Thursday, Oct. 16 will be followed by a Q & A with Vanity Fair national editor and political correspondent Todd Purdum. Immediately following the L.A. run, the cast heads out on a national tour of 21 cities across the U.S. (Oct. 24-March 9).In Ball's classic novel, the police soon discover that their prime 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. Published in 1965, a time when America was grappling with integration and an evolving acceptance of the Civil Rights movement, Ball's 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. "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.," notes 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 5 Oscars at the 1968 Academy Awards Ceremony. Even today, in 2014, there are moments in this story that are all too familiar. In many ways, it seems timelier than ever." Playwright Matt Pelfrey is co-artistic director of the Furious Theatre Company. His plays have been produced around the country and overseas, including Cockroach Nation, Terminus Americana, An Impending Rupture of the Belly, Pure Shock Value and Freak Storm, and are available from Original Works Publishing, Broadway Play Publishing and Samuel French. He is the winner of the Actor's Theater of Louisville's Heidman Award and a Backstage Garland Award for Playwriting, and has been nominated for LA Weekly and Ovation awards. He worked as a staff writer on the MTV drama Skins. His screenplay Survivalism was included on the 2011 Blood List and currently has Gina Carano attached to star. His screenplay The Find is set up with Michael Bay attached as executive producer and Mark Palansky (Penelope) directing. He received his BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State and his Master in Fine Arts in Playwriting from U.C.L.A. He teaches undergraduate playwriting at UCLA.Brian Kite has directed across the United States and abroad, recently helming the L.A. Theatre Works national tour of Pride and Prejudice and their production of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, which toured China in May and June of 2013. He is the producing artistic director at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, where his credits include critically acclaimed productions of Miss Saigon (Los Angeles and Macau), Little Shop of Horrors, Dinner with Friends, Steel Magnolias starring Cathy Rigby, Driving Miss Daisy starring Michael Learned and David Auburn's Proof. He recently helmed a production of Cabaret in Bermuda under the patronage of the Queen's Governor and directed a production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie at the Actors Co-op in Hollywood. Before that he directed two Los Angeles revivals, J.B. by Archibald MacLeish and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and the West Coast premiere of Václav Havel's The Beggars Opera. He directed the Philadelphia production of Glenn Wein's Grandma Sylvia's Funeral and worked with Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan on the Geffen Playhouse's production of Hedda Gabler starring Annette Bening. He directed over 20 productions at French Woods Festival in New York where he was the director of theater programs for seven years. Brian is currently a member of the directing faculty at U.C.L.A.'s School of Theater, Film and Television, serves as the chair of the LA Stage Alliance's Board of Governors, is the artistic director of the award-winning Buffalo Nights Theatre Company and is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, L.A. Theatre Works is the leading radio theater company in the U.S., committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions. The company's public radio series, featuring stage plays performed by America's top actors augmented by interviews with the artists and others, can be heard nationwide and can also be streamed on demand at www.latw.org. Over 11,000 libraries carry LATW's plays on audio, and recordings and teaching materials are used by over 3,000 middle and high schools across the country. Since 2005, L.A. Theatre Works has toured nationally, visiting over 250 civic, performing arts and university venues across the country with productions ranging from Neil Simon's Prisoner of Second Avenue to the original docu-dramas The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial and Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers. In 2011, L.A. Theatre Works toured China with Top Secret, playing to sold out houses of Chinese professionals and students; in 2013 the production was invited back to perform at Beijng's prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Tianjin Grand Theater and major venues in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing and Fuling. L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series can be heard on the following stations (check local listings for broadcast times): KPFK 90.7 FM, Los Angeles (98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, 99.5 FM in Ridgecrest/China Lake and 93.7 FM in Rancho Bernardo/North San Diego); KALW 91.7 FM, San Francisco; KRCB 91.1 FM, Santa Rosa; KUOW 94.9 FM, Seattle; and in over 75 markets nationwide. The Los Angeles performances of In the Heat of the Night take place on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 8 pm; Friday, Oct. 17 at 8 pm; Saturday, Oct. 18 at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 4 pm. The performance on Thursday, Oct. 16 will be followed by a Q & A with Vanity Fair national editor and political correspondent Todd Purdum. The James Bridges Theater is located in Melnitz Hall on the campus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, Television at 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (enter UCLA from Hilgard just south of Sunset Blvd. and park in Lot 3 on the lower level). Tickets are $60; student tickets are $15 at the door. To purchase tickets, call L.A. Theatre Works at 310-827-0889 or got to www.latw.org.