By orders of the captain's orderly, you will fall in (in an orderly manner, of course) at promptly 1930 Hours on Mondays-Saturdays at Fort Hale (aka Hale Center Theater). When you arrive at this well-known installation, you will take your assigned seats (there are reserved sections for the more elite corps) and you will enjoy yourself!
This is an order and it cannot be rescinded, except by an act of Congress, and that would be long after this particular exercise in hilarity is scheduled to be completed.
Inductees seated in the post theater between now and April 15 will see one of the funniest military comedies ever written. I realize that, all too often, what the government
and/or the military does is quite funny in and of itself - such as the Pentagon's strange procurement procedures - but Ira Levin's chronicle of life in the Army is intentionally funny.
For those of you just beginning your military career, this program (not sanctioned by any government entity) will educate you about what to expect during the first month or so of military service. It's told from the perspective of a wet-behind-the-ears country bumpkin who, single-handedly, turns the Army Air Force upside-down and turns one career sergeant back into a private.
According to Hale Center Theater Directive No. 48-2-21-91, there are two separate casts for this live, theater-in-the-round experience. We were drafted to see the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast. Others, according to the numbers that come up on their draft notice, may see different performers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
There are well-known, experienced players in both casts.
- POST-PLAY DEBRIEFING - This play has three key characters: Will Stockdale, the hick-from-the-Georgia-sticks; Ben Whitledge, his new-found friend and frustrated sidekick, and Sgt. King, who loves his mother and whose only goals in life are to keep the captain happy and maintain the cleanest latrine in the service.
Around these three, in a variety of situations, there are more than 30 other characters - officers, inductees, senators, psychiatrists, etc. - in one of the best ensembles we've ever seen at the Hale Center Theater.
"No Time for Sergeants" is also one of the most difficult productions HCT has mounted. There are 18 scene changes during the two acts, probably much simpler in a standard "proscenium" style theater, but very complicated in the Hale's arena-style setting.
However, it really works. The Adamses' finely tuned pacing and Mark Dietlein's innovative scenery and props help move things briskly along. In between the scenes, to the accompaniment of marching music, cast members parade smartly in and out, removing props and installing new ones for the next scene - desks, double-decker bunk beds, latrine equipment, even the framework for an airplane.
It's all really nifty, but the very best part (and I'm purposely saving the best for the last) is Mike Westenskow's performance as Will Stockdale. This is near-perfect casting.
Westenskow is on stage 95 percent of the time and - golllly! - this guy is one terrific comedy performer. (The alternate cast has Will Swenson, a long-time HCT actor, playing this role. From past experience, I'm sure he's very good in the role, too.) Westenskow exudes just the right touch of fresh-scrubbed, rural innocence.
Keeping right up with him are Kevin B. Cottam and Ron Johnson as Ben Whitledge and Sgt. King. Goofball Stockdale drags them through one scrape after another.
This production is on a par with HCT's other military show from last season, "The Hasty Heart."
Hale Center Theater is in the process of recruiting patrons. I'd suggest you sign up now and avoid the draft - or the "sold-out" sign - whichever comes first.