Pacific Union College Teachers Perform in Offbeat Comedy

By Jonathan Watts on September 17, 2007

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Eight of PUC's educators are rehearsing for roles in You Can't Take It With You, a humorous and insightful comedy about a crazily offbeat family's collision with the "real world" of respectability and decorum.

"Many of the characters who need to satisfy our need to be hams are back," said Greg Schneider, who plays an anarchic grandfather. Schneider is joined by Steve Waters, Richard Webb, Todd Peterson, Keith Neergaard, Lary Taylor, Bruce Ivey, and Ginger Ketting, as well as students and community members.

The play's 20-character cast is directed by associate professor of biology Bryan Ness. According to Ness, "the main message of the play is that there is more to life than making money and getting ahead. The family that this play focuses on is the opposite of that. They enjoy their life."

Do they ever. The Sycamores have decided that life is best lived by letting each member of their family do whatever he or she wants, without regard to success (financial or otherwise) or the standards of the outside world. For example, Paul Sycamore (the father, played by Professor of Mathematics Steve Waters) spends all of his time making and playing with fireworks. He is assisted by Mr. De Pinna (played by assistant professor of physics Richard Webb), a dinner guest from several years back who failed to return home. The numerous other members of the Sycamore household pursue activities ranging from ballet dancing and candy-making to typing plays and naively printing Communist propaganda, all without a care in the world.

Trouble starts when Alice (played by junior liberal studies major Kami Schey), the only Sycamore to be gainfully employed in the ordinary sense, falls in love with Tony Kirby (played by junior business administration major Brian Rios), whose family is proper, prosperous, and conventional. "The whole premise of the thing is a culture clash," said Waters. Will the Kirby family's shocked decorum break up their love match? You'll have to attend one of You Can't Take It With You's performances (September 24, 25, 27, and 28) at the PUC Prep Chapel to find out.

What motivates the teachers to find the extra time for rehearsals (two hours twice a week for several weeks, and then every day for at least a week) and performances? "This play was made into one of my favorite old-time movies. I want to be able to help people see it as I see it," says Bryan Ness, referring to the movie version starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by Frank Capra.

Greg Schneider says he likes to be able to interact with students on an equal level outside the classroom. He also just likes performing. "All us teachers are frustrated actors anyway... . Why not just do it for real?" he said.