When the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts' production of "Fool for Love" opens on Feb. 28, student actors will have prepared for their roles in some unique ways.

The Sam Shepard play will be presented Feb. 24-28 and March 2-4 in the Squires Studio Theatre. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. The production is a part of the 2014-2015 Mainstage Theatre series.

One of Shepard's best known plays, "Fool for Love," introduces Eddie and May, two on-again off-again lovers, who meet in a rundown motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert to finalize their relationship.  Faculty member and director Gregory Justice, who wrote his thesis as a graduate student on Shepard, considers him "one of the greatest playwrights alive today.”

In preparation for his role as Eddie, a calf roper, Tom Fenninger of Vienna, Virginia, a junior double majoring in theatre in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and business management in the Pamplin College of Business, learned to hold and throw a lasso. Prior to winter break, Fenninger met with local cattle farmer Bill McDonald for one-on-one instruction. McDonald gave Fenninger one of his ropes to take home for practice during the break.

"My experience with Bill was great. He is the real deal," said Fenninger. "I'm used to shopping centers and malls down every street, but here on Bill's farm there was nothing but wide open land.”

The cast of the show is also getting the opportunity to work with and learn from veteran actor Stuart Margolin, who won two best supporting actor Emmy awards for his role as Angel Martin in "The Rockford Files. Margolin moved to the region last year and sought out opportunities to work with students pursuing careers in theatre. Justice was delighted to offer a role to him and especially to give the students the opportunity to learn from and work beside such an experienced actor and director. In addition to "The Rockford Files," Margolin has appeared in numerous television and film roles, including his reoccurring role on the television series "NCIS: New Orleans," and remains professionally active. While he does not claim to be a teacher, he said, “I have been told by students that working with me on stage, watching my work ethic and the methods I use to prepare, taught them much.”

Rounding out the cast of “Fool for Love” are Briley Conder of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, a junior double majoring in theatre in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and business management in the Pamplin College of Business, playing the role of May, and Tyler Frech of Midlothian, Virginia, a sophomore majoring in theatre with a cinema emphasis in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, playing the role of Martin. 

Tickets are $10 general and $8 for seniors and students. Performance times, as well as ticket information, may be found online. Tickets can 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 also be available at the box office beginning one hour prior to the performance.

"Fool for Love" contains mature subject matter and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Squires Studio Theatre is located at 290 College Ave. on the campus of Virginia Tech. 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 Streets, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and 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. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

The School of Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre series also conclude its 2014-2015 season in April with William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." 



Written by Donna Thompson of Blacksburg, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.
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