Theater review: Wholesome humor of 'No Time for Sergeants' staged with respect

Published: Saturday, May 4 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

From left, Bryan Hague, Brandon Green and Josh Richardson in "No Time for Sergeants" at Hale Centre Theatre.

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“NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS,” Hale Centre Theatre, through May 25, $26-$16, 801-984-9000 or halecentretheatre.org

WEST VALLEY CITY — We reckon that Will Stockdale ain’t no book-smart feller.

A comedy from a simpler time, “No Time for Sergeants” tells the story of a dimwitted country bumpkin serving in the military and his seemingly unending run-ins with a crusty and frustrated sergeant.

The Pvt. Stockdale yarn was first told in a novel by Mac Hyman and was later a Broadway play followed by a film adaptation. The success of the 1955 Broadway staging and the film three years later rested on the performance of Andy Griffith, and “No Time for Sergeants” launched his career.

It isn’t a play that is often revived, largely because its humor is as dated as the hee-haw hilarity from the Ma and Pa Kettle film series.

Staged with respect and at a thankfully quick pace by director Jennifer Parker Hohl, the Hale Centre Theatre production boasts strong performances from its lead actors.

The Stockdale character could easily be played as a caricature, but Brandon Green displays much of Griffith’s aw-shucks charm and finds the heart within the naïve soldier who is proud to be serving his country in any capacity — even if that means being Permanent Latrine Officer.

Also nicely showcased are the comic talents of Bryan Matthew Hague, as Stockdale’s pal Ben Whitledge, and Josh Richardson, as Sergeant King.

There are genuinely funny encounters and situations in the early stages of the play, but “No Time for Sergeants” reaches a point at which the repetitiveness of the premise becomes apparent. One sequence quickly follows another of Stockdale’s idiocy exasperating each new character he encounters.

With an unwavering sentimentality for wholesome late-’50s sitcom humor, “No Time for Sergeants” will be viewed as a pleasant signpost from a bygone era.

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