MURDER MYSTERY  The national tour of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ will perform Saturday in Hall Auditorium in celebration of L.A. Theatre Works’ 40th Anniversary Season.

Contributed by Lucy Pollack, Public Relations 

The national tour travels to Oxford this weekend

By Hannah Fierle, For The Miami Student

L.A. Theatre Works will be performing the murder mystery “In the Heat of the Night” Saturday, Nov. 8 at Hall Auditorium.

“In the Heat of the Night” is a riveting murder mystery set in a small southern town in the 1960s. The plot involves a wrongfully accused murder, with the underlying racial tensions of an African American homicide detective and a police chief during the social revolution of the decade.

The show’s two main antagonists are Police Chief Bill Gillespie and African-American homicide detective, Virgil Tibbs, a northerner who was coincidentally passing through town at the same time a wealthy and prominent entrepreneur from Chicago is found murdered. What follows is a series of twists, as the murder mystery unravels, fueled by the fire of prejudice and racism that was prevalent in the south during the 1960s.

Playwright and screenwriter Matthew Pelfrey’s stage adaption of the classic play reflects on the racial tensions and clashes of the time, while subtly hinting that such attitudes have not been completely rectified in our society, even 50 years later.

Patti Hannan Liberatore, director of the Performing Arts Series at Miami University, noted that the play is, “meant to be provocative — literally, to provoke conversation and be a platform to discuss what has changed and what hasn’t changed.”

Hannan Liberatore noted her excitement for L.A. Theatre Works to return to Miami University for their third production.

“They do really great work and pick topics with strong messages,” Hannan Liberatore said. “This production ties in well with Miami’s theme of celebrating freedom.”

Because of the controversial nature of the play, as well as the use of the original script, Elizabeth Reitz-Mullenix, dean of the College of Creative Arts and Theatre Scholar, will give a curtain speech providing context and to advise of the derogatory and racially insensitive language that is used throughout the play, written at the height of racial tensions in the United States.

The current tour of  “In the Heat of the Night” will be traveling and performing at universities and small venues through March 2015.

The show was produced as film in 1967, adapted from the 1965 novel by the same name, written by John Ball.

The film version was awarded five Academy Awards in 1967. Two sequels followed the film, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!” in 1970 and “The Organization” in 1971. In 1988, the film was adapted into a television series.

L.A. Theatre Works is a well renowned, nonprofit media arts organization out of Venice, California with the goal of presenting, preserving and disseminating classic and contemporary plays, which the organization has been doing for more than  25 years.

Their Audio Theatre Collection includes over 400 plays, making it the most extensive library of plays in the world.

The organization boasts former alumni such as Hilary Swank, Neil Patrick Harris and Jimmy Smits.

Their national touring program began in 2005 and travels to performing arts venues and universities all over the country, with the promise of a “live-in-performance” radio drama. Their productions range from famous past and contemporary plays to L.A. Theatre Works’ original material.

The performance begins at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased for $18 for adults and $9 for students and children.

Students attending the show in conjunction with a class can reveive discounted tickets. Students required to attend the show for a class will receive two free tickets.