Sunday, November 11, and Monday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m. at The Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg.
In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage—until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her 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 goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire. Written with warmth and humor, Radium Girls is a fast-moving, highly theatrical ensemble piece for 9 to 10 actors, who play more than 30 parts—friends, co-workers, lovers, relatives, attorneys, scientists, consumer advocates, and myriad interested bystanders. Called a “powerful” and “engrossing” drama by critics, Radium Girls offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science.
As noted above, there are over thirty parts played by a diverse cast of ten (5M, 5F). The director will cast actors who can believably play the ages suggested.
Here are some of the main characters:
GRACE FRYER (Female, 15 to late 20’s) a deeply sincere woman, she is always concerned with doing what’s right. At the start of the play, she, like almost everyone else, believes in the great goodness of science, but through the course of the play, she faces the trials of questioning what goodness really is as she suffers through her illness inflicted by the radium paint she worked with.
KATHRYN SCHAUB (Female, 15 to late 20’s), a friend of Grace, she is the dreamiest and most romantic of the three girls, always filled with ideas of love. Kathryn is the first to really sense the danger they’re all in, and becomes truly afraid. As her own illness progresses, she becomes more and more cynical, believing that people will do and say anything, except what’s right.
IRENE RUDOLPH, Kathryn’s cousin, is age seventeen at the start of the play. Later, she is in her twenties. She is the more pragmatic of the three girls – down-to-earth, straightforward, almost cynical, and sometimes tactlessly blunt. She is the first of the three dial painter girls to die.
KATHERINE WILEY is the executive director of the New Jersey Consumer’s League. She is a strong-willed woman with moral fiber, and works to help Grace go to trial against the U.S. Radium corp.
SOB SISTER (Nancy Jane Harlan), is a tabloid reporter. She follows the story of the “Radium Girls” and gives them publicity, though the presentation of her stories tend to be a little more scandalous and outrageous.
REPORTER (Jack/Jane Youngwood), works for the Newark Ledger He, like the Sob Sister, follows the story of the “Radium Girls” and gives them publicity. He is perhaps a little more dignified in his journalism than the Sob Sister.
MRS. ANNA FRYER is Grace’s mother, and the mother of many other children. She is a pragmatic woman, concerned with finances and all things practical.
MRS. ALMA MACNEIL is the supervisor of the dial painter girls, and possibly Irish. She is a hard woman who is concerned with her work and its quality, likely to a fault.
MRS. ARTHUR (DIANE) ROEDER is Arthur Roeder’s wife. She enjoys being the wife of a company president, and because she cares about her husband, she cares about the company. She believes in the good that her husband is able to do.
DR. MARIE CURIE is Polish by birth (she has the Polish accent), She is credited with the “discovery” of radium.
HARRIET ROEDER is the daughter of Arthur Roeder, age nine at the beginning of the play, and later in her thirties, telling her father how he needs to find a hobby and forget the past.
ARTHUR ROEDER is age thirty-four at the start of the play, and sixty-five at its close. Becomes president of the U.S. Radium Corp. It is when he takes over the company that the switch from dial painting to more medical pursuits is made. He is a husband and a father, and a good man, believing that what he is doing is the right thing (he views Knef’s offer to be immoral), and the greatness of the American Dream.
TOM KREIDER is Grace’s fiancé, and a postal worker. Though he is somewhat concerned about money (certainly not to the extent of Grace’s mother), he is more concerned with getting married to Grace and starting a life with her.
C.B. “CHARLIE” LEE, at first Roeder’s vice president of the company, later becomes president. He is a true businessman, concerned most of all by the good of the company and the company’s purpose: to sell watches.
EDWARD MARKLEY works as counsel for the U.S. Radium Corp. He’s a calm, rational, matter-of-fact sort of man. Though when threatened or in the face of danger, he can be cold, very cold.
DR. VON SOCHOCKY is the founder of the U.S. Radium Corp., and the inventor of the luminous paint. When the girls all get sick, he is burdened with guilt, so he offers to testify for them. He himself gets sick from the radiation; with the girls, it was in their jaws, for him, it’s in his hands.
RAYMOND BERRY is the attorney for the dial painters. He is generally concerned about the welfare of the girls, to the point of disagreeing with Ms. Wiley’s tactic of using journalism and public sympathy for reform.
DR. JOSEPH KNEF is at first Irene’s dentist, then Grace’s. He is the one to advise Grace to go to the company for help on the grounds that the company should feel obligated to help, that there’s a moral obligation. Later, he tries to make a deal with the company to come up with “favorable diagnoses” for any of the factory girls who come to see him.
DR. FREDERICK FLINN, PH.D is a fifty-something academic, warm and friendly. Works in physiology at Columbia University, industrial hygiene. He tells Grace that the radium has nothing to do with her ailment, but he is working for the company.
Auditions will take place at the theatre. Actors will be asked to perform a cold reading from selections of the play. No monologue is needed.