Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The story of Black American prejudice is part of the recognition, and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center  pays tribute and honor to the month by bringing some of the most powerful performances to its stage. 

In The Heat Of The Night, where 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 newcomer to town named Virgil Tibbs. L.A. Theatre Works brings its unique, radio theater-style production of John Ball’s classic on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.

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 Steigner and a long-running (1988-1994) television series starring Howard Rollins and Carroll O’Connor.

“College-educated, well dress, 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.,” noted L.A. Theatre Works Executive Producter Anna Lyse Erikson.“

King was shot dead at his hotel just six days before In the Heat of the Night was awarded five Oscars at the 1968 Academy Awards Ceremony. Even today, in 2015, there are moments in this story that are all too familiar. In many ways, it seems timelier than ever.” Tickets range from $27 to $37. For tickets or information, call the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center Box Office at (508) 994-2900 or visit www.zeiterion.org.