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Photo courtesy of Billboard.
The Holdovers Review
February 20, 2024

A Honest Review and Summary of the JCHS Production “Radium Girls”

A Honest Review and Summary of the JCHS Production Radium Girls

On November 18th, 19th, and 20th, the JCHS Theater Arts Program put on 3 performances of “Radium Girls.” I attended the Sunday matinee after hearing a lot of talk about the show. I did not know much information about the show, and after seeing it I was enlightened about the radium poisoning that occurred in Orange, New Jersey. 

Photo courtesy of nj.com

Fiona Laddey, who worked backstage for the production, commented on the show and her time backstage. 

Hayden Levine: I know you did some research on the background behind the show, tell me a little bit about that.

Fiona Laddey: The play is based on true events which take place in New Jersey during the 1920s. At the time people believed that radium was healthy for you and they would use it in different paints, medicines, and products. The play follows the story of Grace Fryer, a female working in a watch Dial painting factory. Grace and her co-workers painted the watch faces with glow-in-the dark radium paint so that soldiers of the war could see their watches in the dark. The girls were encouraged to lick their paint brushes before painting so that they would have a sharper brush. They discovered the dangers of radium too late after their jaws began to fall off. Grace ended up taking the Factory owner to court, and although she won and was rewarded with a very large sum of money, she was still left suffering from Radium poison. Many of her friends and co-workers died from the poisoning as well.

The show followed Grace’s time in the factory, at home, and in court. It also featured news reporters and Arthur Roeder, the factory manager.

Photo courtesy of Lors Photos

HL: What was it like working backstage? 

FL: Working in the backseat is a lot of fun. It’s really cool to see how the play functions when everything is put together. I got to see it from a different perspective compared to when you’re in the audience. It can be stressful because there’s a lot of pressure on you to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that you don’t forget anything or make any mistakes but for the most part it’s a great experience.

Annabella Grosso, who played the main character Grace Fryer, commented on her experience doing the show. 

HL: How did you prepare for your role as Grace Fryer?

Anabella: I listened to a lot of music and made playlists. I read about Grace as well. It was easier to get into her character since she is a real person.

Photo courtesy of Lors Photos

HL: How was it as a first time lead? I know you have been in the ensemble for other productions. 

AG: It was a great opportunity for me. I felt very lucky. Doing the show, I never really felt like the lead because everyone was so supportive and we all worked together.

HL: How was it working with the cast of Radium Girls?

AG: Working with everyone was my favorite part. Everyone was always really great. It was an amazing experience and I’m really grateful for everything.

I was astounded watching Annabella’s performance. She brought so much emotion and personality to the character. Everyone in the show acted professionally and skillfully. The entire show was very educational and well organized. New director Randy Bobish did a great job managing this moving play. 

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Hayden Levine, Writer
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