Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Also see Gil's review of An American in Paris
The plot of Ira Levin's adaptation of Mac Hyman's novel is told in flashback, with Stockdale narrating, commenting on and reenacting the events that happened to him once he got drafted into the Army. Will's clueless nature, lack of social skills, and need to continually say whatever is on his mind, even when it's not appropriate, get him, his fellow soldiers, and their sergeant into a neverending amount of trouble. But sometimes the swirling craziness that is the result of Will's simpleton actions actually results in something positive that even paints him as a hero. While the piece is fun and lively it does have a bit of a repetitive nature, with Will's actions having a constant and continual outlandish impact on each new character he meets.
Hunt doesn't play Stockdale as an ignorant caricature, just a man who is uninformed about the modern world. This makes him both realistic and entirely lovable. His "aw shucks" line delivery, southern accent, and sunny disposition provide a huge dose of charm, with his thoughts of what he was thinking during these narrative remembrances filled with humor. Hunt is entirely endearing in the role.
As the Sergeant King, who often finds himself the victim of the chaos that Stockdale's actions create, Raymond Barcelo is appropriately frazzled and flustered. Eric Mitchell delivers a good, realistic mix of timidity and assuredness as Stockdale's army pal Ben and he also effectively shows Ben's hurt side when he feels his friend has betrayed him. Kelton White does a good job as the tough guy who keeps having run-ins with Stockdale. The crackerjack ensemble play multiple parts, with Tom Endicott delivering varied portrayals as both Will's ignorant father and an army general; and Jason Hammond is a hoot as an agitated psychiatrist whom Stockdale turns the tables on. Also of note is Angela Kriese who plays every female character in the show with such a chameleon-like grace that you'd swear there were a half dozen actresses in this production.
M. Seth Reines has directed his cast to deliver refined comic performances that aren't too over the top, which adds a nice hint of realism to the piece. He also keeps the pace of the show swift by staging the narration between scenes on the steps in the audience while the cast quickly and fairly quietly move an abundance of set elements on and off stage. Those set pieces from Brian Daily clearly set the numerous locations of the play. Daily's mockup of a plane when combined with Jeff A. Davis' excellent lighting and some stage fog create the fun illusion of an airborne aircraft.
It may be sentimental and hokey, and even a bit repetitive, but with a great cast and Hale's always excellent production elements, No Time for Sergeants is a fun show that is also filled with heart.
The Hale Centre Theatre production of No Time for Sergeants runs through May 13th, 2017, with performances at 50 W. Page Avenue in Gilbert. Tickets can be ordered at www.haletheatrearizona.com or by calling (480) 497-1181.
Directed by M. Seth Reines