“We must be careful how we raise our children . . . ”

From this admonition comes “Mr. Marmalade,” the next School of Performing Arts Mainstage production, opening Feb. 21 and running for eight performances in Squires Studio Theatre.

“Mr. Marmalade” is a dark comedy that premiered Off-Broadway in 2005. Written by Noah Haidle, the play centers on the relationship between a 4-year-old girl named Lucy and her imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade, but don’t get too comfortable with this plot — the title character may be imaginary but this “friend” represents many adult influences that may not be appropriate for children. The New York Times called the play “ . . . a zany comedy about emotionally disturbed children.”

Cast member Molly McIntyre, a junior theatre and business hospitality double major from Purcellville, Virginia, believes theatre is a great medium for discussing taboo and other difficult subjects.

“While the show is a comedy, it is a very dark one at that,” she said. “I hope students will enjoy the comedic moments but also allow themselves to open up to the darker moments as well.”

McIntyre will be playing the character Lucy opposite the title character Mr. Marmalade, played by Tyler Frech, a senior theatre major from Midlothian, Virginia.

“Mr. Marmalade” will also feature the design work of multiple School of Performing Arts graduate students.

“There are several larger-than-life costumes in this show that have been both fun and challenging to create in the costume shop,” said Alison Owen, a second-year M.F.A. costume design student from Port Townsend, Washington. “We’re merging both imaginary worlds and real worlds and dressing adults like young children. One costume in particular is nearly as wide as the actress wearing the piece is tall.”

Other graduate students working on the show include scenic designer Estefania Perez-Vera, a first-year M.F. A. scenic design student from Pachuca, Mexico, and properties designer Felysia Havens, a second-year M.F.A. properties design student from Absecon, New Jersey.

Faculty member Gregory Justice, who has directed many edgy pieces throughout his career, is looking forward to doing so again with “Mr. Marmalade.”

“The play’s main theme states, ‘We must be careful how we raise our children,’” Justice said. “This 4-year-old has been influenced by many things she shouldn’t be able to see or hear, but because of the way our world is today, children can often find themselves exposed to inappropriate themes.”

Justice believes that the world of parenting and social conditions can have an influence on the way children grow up, and that’s something we all must remember.

Performances of “Mr. Marmalade” are Feb. 21–25, 27, and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. Shows will take place in the Studio Theatre inside the Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave. on the campus of Virginia Tech. The play includes adult themes and content.

Tickets and Parking

Tickets are $12 general and $10 for seniors and students and may be purchased online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Student Centers and Activities Ticket Office on the first floor of Squires Student Center or by calling 540-231-5615. Tickets will be available at the Squires ticket office beginning one hour prior to the performance.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street; in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street; and in the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots.

Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Squires parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least six days prior to the event.

The 2016–2017 School of Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre series presents its final theatre production of the season, Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, on April 18–27. Tickets for all performances are now on sale.

Written by Caroline Davis, of Roanoke, Virginia, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts