IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT Review

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Derek Snow as Tibbs & Mike Hall as Gillespie. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Derek Snow as Tibbs & Mchael Hall as Gillespie. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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 as Tibbs, Michael as Gillespie. Rich Setterberg as Tatum & Terry Gosdin as the Coroner. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Derek Snow as Tibbs, Michael as Gillespie. Rich Setterberg as Tatum & Terry Gosdin as the Coroner. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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.

Derek Snow as Tibbs & Simon Powell as Sam. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Derek Snow as Tibbs & Simon Powell as Sam. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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.

Tom Peters as Purdy & Allison Evans as Noreen.  Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Tom Peters as Purdy & Allison Evans as Noreen. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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.

Dan Maloney as Pete, James Ball as Ralph & Simon Powell as Sam. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Dan Maloney as Pete, James Ball as Ralph & Simon Powell as Sam. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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.

Dee Anne Bryll as Melanie & Rich Setterberg as Endicott. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Dee Anne Bryll as Melanie & Rich Setterberg as Endicott. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

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.

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