'Radium Girls' requires SHS actors to get serious
Historical play about 1920s true story opens March 5
When you think of the 1920s you think of speakeasies, womens suffrage and flappers.
But 22 students at Sandy High School are ready to share the knowledge they gained while preparing the schools newest play. The knowledge that the 20s also were a time of lessons learned the hard way.
Radium Girls, written by D.W. Gregory, opens at Sandy High Schools Black Box Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6.
The play, directed at Sandy High by drama instructor Chris Harris, follows the story of Grace Fryer. In the 20s, radium was considered a miracle cure. It was used to treat cancer and lupus, but could also be found in a multitude of products including butter, water, cigarettes, beer – even chocolate.
Luminous watches, whose dials and numbers were painted with radium to produce a glowing effect, were all the rage. Eventually, the women in charge of painting them began to fall ill with an unknown sickness.
Fryer, played by senior Theresa Lehr in Sandys version, was a dial painter. Radium Girls is based on the true story of Fryers fight for her day in court.
It was this case that made people realize that it was a dangerous substance, Harris said.
Harris said he fell in love with the one-act version of Radium Girls on his search for a serious play.
Sandy Highs last production was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, an outrageous musical comedy, and Harris knew it was time to go a different direction.
I sometimes find dramas difficult, Harris said. Historical plays, for whatever reason, seem to work really well for high school kids.
Sandy High School students will perform the full-length version of Radium Girls,
Its nice to be able to do things that are on the opposite range of the spectrum, said Karlie Kitchens, a senior at Sandy High, adding that the group of drama students have gone from being very non-serious to trying to portray real people. It helps grow your range; it helps you grow as an actor.
Kitchens, who plays the sob sister, in the production, a female reporter mainly tasked with covering the emotional side of stories, thinks the audience will walk away in shock that Fryers story actually happened.
She said it was a learning experience for all of the plays cast and crew, including Harris.
I didnt know about it, Harris said. How did I miss this? How did I never hear about this?
Its not something I personally learned in history class, Kitchens said. Its very fascinating to learn.
Crew members decided to go with a simple brown, two-level set and the rest of the staging is achieved through lighting.
Its working better than I think any of us expected, Harris said.
The simplicity of the set also means crew arent responsible for too many set changes.
Theres a certain reward to doing a play like this, Harris said. Theyre learning this as well.
For Hailey Luebbert, who plays Katherine, the best part of the play so far is Lehrs performance.
This is her story, Luebbert said. Our lead shes just really fun to watch. She does it so much justice.
Putting together Radium Girls hasnt been without its challenges – including trying to make light, fun 1920s music fit in with a show about death and dying – Kitchens said the cast have all worked well together.
Most of us have already worked together, she said. But there are some new people. Its good for them to get to experience this.
As an educator, you have to educate, Harris said. You cant just do comedies And I hope the audience will support us in doing this drama.
Radium Girls, can be seen at 7:30 p.m. on March 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 at Sandy High Schools Black Box Theatre, 37400 Bell Street.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors.
For reservations, call 503-668-8011 ext. 7313.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT