WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield High School Theatre Department takes on a captivating play about environmental activism in their upcoming production of “Radium Girls” on Thursday, Nov. 21, Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23.
Inspired by a true story, “Radium Girls” written by D.W. Gregory, tells the story of New Jersey factory women in the late 1920s who hand-painted luminous watch dials until they contracted radiation poisoning. The play traces the efforts of Grace Fryer (Sophie Tananbaum), a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court against factory owner and former employer, Arthur Roeder (Matthew Meixner).
“'Radium Girls' takes place in New Jersey over the span of a few decades, and deals with relevant, timeless issues,” said Tananbaum. “We see these girls fighting for change and recognition. What starts as them seeking compensation for their illness turns into a desire to let the public know about corruption. During the rehearsal process, we talked a lot about how this continues to happen throughout our country.”
“'Radium Girls' tells the story of a courageous battle that ultimately saved millions of workers by laying the groundwork for new labor laws in our country. It reminds us of the voices from our past that worked bravely to protect our future,” said Westfield High School Theatre Director Daniel Devlin. “Our cast and crew have come together to bring this powerful story to life with great honesty and wit.”
The cast commented on the unique challenges of playing historical figures.
“I wanted to honor Grace and the other girls who worked in these factories,” said Tananbaum. “There was an underlying feeling of truly wanting to do their story justice. Obviously we do the shows here at WHS because we love acting, but this reminds us of theater’s power to connect people and tell stories.” Tananbaum even took a trip to East Hanover with fellow cast member Remi Shindell (who plays fellow factory worker Kathryn Schaub) to visit Grace Fryer’s gravesite.
“Parts of 'Radium Girls' connect to what goes on in today’s society, and that should resonate with people,” said Sean Henderson, who portrays Dr. Cecil Drinker, the doctor who discovers the cause of the illness in the factory workers. “It’s a story of overcoming struggle, and I hope that people will see a sense of empowerment.”
Other cast members include Joey Gamba as Raymond Berry, Noah Lipkind as Edward Markley, Talia McRoberts as Irene Rudolph, Remi Shendell as Kathryn Schaub, Eva Boyes as Mrs. MacNeil, Evan Leone as Dr. Von Sochocky, Alexandra Sica as Sob Sister, McKenzie Waddell as Reporter, Sarah Rappoport as Madame Curie and Harriet, Jessie Karlin and Olivia Mazzola as Society Women, Sophia Rossetti as Mrs. Fryer, Sean Marner as CB “Charlie” Lee, Finn McGurn as Tom Kreider, Zoe Greenzang as Mrs. Michaels, Ryan Williamson as Dr. Martland, Liz Rosenberg as Clerk and Older Harriet, Elisa Saint-Denis as Mrs. Roeder, Jake Delforte as Dr. Joseph Knef, Sean Henderson as Dr. Drinker, Joshua Madera as Dr. Frederick Flinn, Ph.D, Olivia Ebel as Katherine Wiley. Other ensemble members include Michael Bonner, Jeremy Dudzinski, Alyrie Silverman, Lucie Saint-Denis and Emily Triolo.
Tickets for Radium Girls are $12, available at online at whstd.booktix.com. Any tickets not sold in advance will be available at the door. Performances will held in the auditorium of Westfield High School at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, and at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23.