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Falcon’s “Heat of the Night” Warms Cincinnati Audiences

So says black Pasadena Homicide Investigator, Virgil Tibbs, strongly played by Derek Snow in the Falcon Theatre’s production of In the Heat of the Night.

It’s the early sixties, and Tibbs is traveling in the deep South. He is waiting for a bus in Argo, Alabama when he arrested by the local hayseed cops for a murder. Virgil confronts racism and prejudice while helping the local sheriff solve the murder mystery.

This production of In the Heat of the Night is outstanding. Small intimate spaces like the Falcon put the audience close to the action of the stage. Director Ed Cohen smartly places all the actors behind a scrim, reminding the audience of the ensemble, which is very good. Each actor of the 10-person troupe was well-prepared for their roles. Derek Snow was solid throughout, commanding each scene. He needed a good counterpoint for his strong, laconic role of Mr. Tibbs and he got it in Michael Hall’s interpretation of Sheriff Gillespie, an outsider hired to be sheriff. Hall’s performance matched Snow’s, and you really felt his transition from desiring to be accepted in a bigoted town to accepting the new world where a black man could be equal.

Cohen used the actors to change the set and this technique moved the play along at a brisk pace. Simon Powell and Dan Maloney played police officers and both were very fine. I like when actors project their voices toward the audience! Tom Peters also stands out, playing two crucial roles.

Special mention must be made for the production music provided by two actors on stage, Rich Setterberg and Allison Evans. Rich played three roles, and played bass lines of popular tunes from the era (and harmonica). Allison provided a drum beat and did a good job playing her character.

The lighting in this show was also very fine. The Whiskey Shambles Band played some blues tunes before the show. This was a great way to set this fine period piece by John Ball.

Falcon is celebrating its 25th season. Falcon Producer Ted Weil wears more hats than the inventory of Batsakes Hat Shop downtown. Lighting design, set design, set construction, sound design. In addition, Falcon Theatre has successfully purchased the building and have made serious improvements to the theatre space.

Greater Cincinnati theatre lovers are lucky to have the Falcon Theatre as one of the many theatrical treasures available. Go see this show!