Links to all reviews can be found using the REVIEWS link at the top of the page. Blog postings, links and more are available on my Facebook fan page. You can also receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT presented by Falcon Theater through Feb. 28. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
“They call me, ‘Mr. Tibbs.'”
Falcon Theater brings a riveting production of the racially-charged murder-mystery, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, to the stage in Newport.
Derek Snow does excellent work as Virgil Tibbs, the detective who struggles to maintain his composure amid the near-constant bigotry he is subjected to. Equally engaging is Mike Hall as chief of police Gillespie as he struggles with controlling his own bigotry versus the responsibility of bringing a murderer to justice. Together the two play well against each other, both working toward the same goal and trying to prove to the other their worth.
Also very strong is Simon Powell in the role of Officer Sam Wood. I enjoyed the mentoring dynamic he developed with Tibbs, as well as how he handled the pressures of the townspeople’s attitude toward him for working with a colored man. It was interesting to see his response to this morph over the course of the show.
The remaining ensemble was very solid and did good work. Of those playing multiple roles, I found Terry Gosdin and Tom Peters to be really strong in distinguishing their two characters.
This production enjoyed solid direction by Ed Cohen with some very engaging scene work. I did find the scene where Tibbs is “attacked” to be confusing. For me, it was not clear what was happening or where it was taking place. I also felt there were a couple of times where the racially-motivated bigotry in the beginning of a scene almost completely disappeared by the end that scene, with the conversation becoming a bit too casual.
The costume design by Tara Willians, worked well and kept the look of the period for me. I would have liked to have seen Dee Anne Bryll (as Melanie), wigged or hair-styled to better reflect the era.
As staged, I found the set changes to be a bit time-consuming and overly complicated. The on-stage base and percussion was a nice concept during the scene changes, but it quickly became a bit repetitive. Also, since the music continued into the scene’s dialogue, I found it to be a bit too loud.
During the final confrontation, the cast seemed less-than-conformable with the stage combat so the scene seemed a bit tentative. I did not see a fight choreographer listed in the program.
Overall, it’s a very well-done and intense production that is sadly, still timely given recent events. I understand that ticket sales are extremely strong, so you better act quickly to ensure a seat.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5
I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.