Cast of ‘Radium Girls’ bring the dying to life

For the past few weeks, The cast of Radium Girls has worked tirelessly on the production. Through this, they have found difficulties they had to overcome, and they have developed an understanding of the characters that they play as well as the gravity of the message.

For a time, radium was heralded as a miracle cure and even used to paint glowing watches. However, the dial painters who worked with the substance fell ill. Based on a true story, Radium Girls follows Grace Fryer, a dial painter who finds herself in a battle with the US Radium Corporation and facing the internal and external challenges this brings. 

This emotional and inspiring play “offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science,” according to critics.

According to actors Connor Zielinski and Emily Sytsma, it was a struggle for the actors to realistically show both accents and physical pain, as they are easily overlooked but need to be consistent for a quality performance.

“I have to not only know my lines and act in the scene, but I also have to make sure I’m doing a german accent,” said Zielinski, who plays Markley, Von Sochocky, and Dr. Knef.

Research, not only on accents, is essential for bringing characters to life, “whether it be on the computer … or research within yourself,” said Emily Sytsma, who plays Mrs. Fryer, Marie Curie, and an elderly woman.

Vicky Nakian, who plays Grace Fryer, had to do some of that research to learn how to move in her role as the lead character. 

“Her body’s slowly deteriorating and she’s slowly dying, so one of the things I have to do is walk with a cane,” Nakian said. “I’m going to have to wear a back brace.” 

Despite the difficulties of playing these characters, the actors have found meaning and inspiration in the show. 

“This show has a really good and clear message that you need to stand up for yourself,” Zielinski said. 

“The dynamic I get to play around with between Grace and myself is really fun and exciting,” Sytsma said. In the show, her character provides the contrast between the realism of Mrs. Fryer and the idealism of Grace Fryer.

“This is a true story and I want to do it justice and I wanted to do the character justice because she was a real person who was very admirable, and I wanted to portray her in a good light,” Nakian said. “She’s going to stand up for what she believes in and she’s not going to let anyone walk all over her, and I think that’s a great lesson for anyone.”

The story of the radium girls is an inspiring story of self-advocacy and perseverance, two of the Be C-G pillars, which the cast and crew of the fall play have worked to portray to the audience.

The show runs from Thursday, Oct. 10, through Saturday, Oct. 12.