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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

‘In The Heat of the Night’ takes to the stage
Theatre Charlotte hosts production, discussion
Published Thursday, November 1, 2012
by Staff Reports


It’s 1962. A hot August night lies heavy over the small town of Argo, Ala. The body of a dead white man is found. The police arrest a black stranger named Virgil Tibbs only to discover that Tibbs is actually a homicide detective from California.

Ron McLelland (seated) as Virgil Tibbs, Robert Crozier (behind Tibbs) as Deputy Sam Wood and Lamar Wilson as Chief Gillespie in “In The Heat of The Night.” The stage production is at Theatre Charlotte.

That is the backdrop of John Ball’s “In the Heat of the Night,” a novel that inspired an Oscar-winning film and Emmy-winning television series. Acclaimed playwright Matt Pelfrey adapted the drama-thriller into a stage play that recently made its regional premiere at Theatre Charlotte.

Although based in the past, the play still proves its relevance today, shedding light on racism and questioning the ability to form relationships beyond prejudice and preconceived notions.

The original novel asked tough questions about the state of the union during the Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years later, has racism truly disappeared? Is it waning? Theatre Charlotte’s production of “In the Heat of the Night” is exploring those themes. The theatre company is partnering with the Levine Museum of the New South and its exhibition of lynching photography, “Without Sanctuary,” to facilitate audience talkback sessions after the play. The next session will be held following the Nov. 9 performance and Levine Museum educators will facilitate a discussion with the audience and cast.

“In the Heat of the Night” was commissioned as a play and first produced by Godlight Theatre Company in New York in 2010.

“In the Heat of the Night” is showing now through Nov. 11 at Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Road. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through CarolinaTix at (704) 372-1000 or www.carolinatix.org. Levine Museum members are eligible for a discount and ticketholders can show a ticket stub or playbill for discounted admission to the Levine Museum.



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