Wilmington College Theatre to Present ‘Radium Girls’

March 20, 2019

Drama Hearkens American Obsessions on Health, Wealth and Commercialism of Science

In 1926, radium was a miracle cure. Madame Curie was an international celebrity and luminous watches were the latest rage — until the girls who painted them began to fall ill to a mysterious disease.

Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a watch dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. The show offers a wry, unflinching look at the American obsessions with health, wealth and what we now call the commercialization and “deep pockets” of science.

Wilmington College Theatre will present the compelling story, Radium Girls, April 11, 12 and 13, at 7:30 p.m., in Hugh G. Heiland Theatre. Reservations are available by contacting the Theatre Box Office at 937.481.2267, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

Wynn Alexander, professor of theatre, is directing the show and providing set design, with Becky Haines handling light design and Steven Haines music.

The cast features: Riley Gatlin as Grace Fryer, Jessica Fair as Kathryn Schaub, Ariana Riccardi as Miss Katherine Wiley, Kendra Nelson as Sob Sister, Josh Woodward as Arthur Roeder, Gage Clemins as Tom Kreider and Layne Frederick as the reporter/photographer.

Brittany Barnett portrays the characters Irene Rudolph, Harriet Roeder, shop girl and Board Member #1, while Jenna Fawcett plays Alma MacNeil, the clerk, elderly widow, court clerk and Board Member #2, with Cecilia Hunt as Diana Roeder, Madame Curie, the store owner and Board Members #3, and Nina Roberts as Mother Fryer, the society woman, Mrs. Michaels, a saleswoman and a female customer.

Abe Werle portrays both Edward Markley and Dr. Drinker, with Nic Keller playing C.B. Charlie Lee, the male shopper and the lovesick cowboy, Logan Perkins as Dr. Von Sochocky, William Bailey and Dr. Joseph Knef, and Triston Moore as Raymond Berry, Dr. Harrison Martland and Frederick Flinn, Ph.D.

Layne Frederick and Maya Wahrhaftig are stage managers.

In D.W. Gregory’s Radium Girls, Grace Fryer’s chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees. As the case proceeds, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corp., but also with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire.

Though historical in nature, the play is designed to motivate its audience to consider the implications of American consumerism and the corporate “bottom line” mentality. The play elicits laughter, tears and feelings of dismay due to the script’s resonance with a contemporary audience.