The upcoming San Juan College play "You Can't Take It With You" attempts to answer this question.
"You Can't Take It With You" premiers today in the college's Little Theatre at 7 p.m. The show will continue tomorrow at the same time and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. as well as Sunday at 2 p.m.
Originally scheduled to open last week, the play was delayed due to a death in the lead actor's family, said director Mollie Mook-Fiddler.
Despite the delay, Mook-Fiddler said she hasn't received complaints.
"You Can't Take It With You" is a romantic comedy set in the 1930s. The play tells the story of the Sycamores, an eccentric family with a daughter, Alice, who is trying to make them appear normal to impress Tony Kirby, whom she loves. The Kirby family, in contrast, is constantly unhappy.
The Sycamore family patriarch is Grandpa Vanderhof, an old man who keeps snakes and has never paid income tax. In addition to Grandpa Vanderhof, Paul Sycamore, Alice's father, and Mr. De Pinna, the family's former iceman, add to the oddness by spending all day manufacturing fireworks in the basement.
Then there is Essie, Alice's sister, who is married to Ed Carmichael, a xylophone player. Essie dreams of being a ballerina and takes lessons from a Russian ballet instructor when she's not making candy. Finally, completing the family is Penny, the mother, who writes melodrama plays.
Compared to the Sycamores, the Kirbys appear to be a respectable, well-to-do family. But, unlike the Sycamores, the Kirbys are never truly happy and Mr. Kirby suffers from indigestion.
Mook-Fiddler said the play will feature some live effects, such as a cap gun and air cannons to make the sound of fireworks.
Mook-Fiddler said the college chose to put on the play in order to showcase the set design of one of its students.
However, the play requires a large cast in a small space — 19 people on stage at the same time. Mook-Fiddler said that this presents challenges such as sight lines for the audience to make sure everyone watching has good visuals.
"It can be like solving a puzzle," Mook-Fiddler said.
Mook-Fiddler said she has enjoyed working with the cast, which includes actors with a wide array of experience. For some, "You Can't Take It With You" will be their first play. Others have acted for years. Mook-Fiddler said the differences in experience helped the newer actors.
Tickets for the show are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased through the box office website at www.sanjuancollege.edu/silhouette. For more information, call the San Juan College Box Office at 505-566-3430.
Hannah Grover may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover