On Stage at Kingsborough brings “In the Heat of the Night” to Brooklyn

On Stage at Kingsborough is bringing a classic and relevant drama to the borough.

The Drama Desk Award-Winning Godlight Theatre Company will present the drama “In the Heat of The Night” as part of the series on Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m.

The show is based on the award-winning book that inspired the Oscar-winning film and Emmy-winning television series. The play takes place in 1962 in the small town of Argo, Alabama.

Director Joe Tantalo, who founded Godlight Theatre Company in 1994 at 17 years old, is thrilled to present a show he once helmed seven years ago off-Broadway, but on a larger scale.

“It’s always been a favorite story of mine, so it was a real treat to bring this to this stage for the first time,” he said. “It is certainly scaling up as we put it up on the big stage at On Stage at Kingsborough. We’re definitely looking at it with different eyes which I think is important for us as we’re looking at a show we did years ago to give it new life.”

In the story, a dead white man is discovered and the local police arrest a black man named Virgil Tibbs, but soon discover that their prime suspect is in fact a homicide detective from California.

Tantalo mentioned how timely the show is in today’s political climate. “Doing the show now feels incredibly relevant to the times that we are living in,” he said. “For me and everyone involved in the show, it really feels like a mirror of society right now.”

In The Heat of the Night, courtesy of Godlight Theatre Company

The director hopes the audience gets a great deal out of the production. “The discussion element of this piece is really about how we are so capable of creating this idea of ‘the other’ that essentially pits marginalized communities that feel like they’re being targeted because of who they are and what they believe, against perceived elites, whether the elites might be intellectuals or the police or any sort of authority,” Tantalo explained.

However, as the story does, he wants to go deeper into very sensitive issues. “What’s important for me is this is not going to be just another [story of a] racist white community against a black man,” he explained. “There has to be a bigger discussion happening here because the piece does a really great job of creating this idea of the other. Who is the ‘other?’

“The audience can’t come in and automatically have their minds made up for them by us about who is right and wrong. I think that showing the fallibility of these people on all sides is what makes the conflict in the piece so relevant and hopefully interesting to watch.”

Since it has been successful in several genres, including film and television, Tantalo also finds it a timeless story. “Pieces like this are necessary as they continue to stir discussion between people who may be like-minded but who may have differences in what their belief systems are,” he said.

Many of the original cast members will return, along with several new actors. All of them are excited to perform at On Stage at Kingsborough. “This production at Kingsborough is going to have more of a visual vocabulary to it,” Tantalo said. “We all love working on that stage. It’s such a luxury being able to produce a piece on such a big stage.”

“I was first introduced to Godlight Theatre and its brilliant artistic director, Joe Tantalo, many years ago when I saw their award-winning premiere of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ in Manhattan,” added Executive Director of On Stage At Kingsborough Anna Becker. “It was truly breathtaking and we are so glad to be able to bring this production to Brooklyn for our audience.”

Tickets start at $32. For more information, visit www.onstageatkingsborough.org.

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