The cast of Warsaw Community High School’s production of “Radium Girls” is pictured. The dramatic play is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
The cast of Warsaw Community High School’s production of “Radium Girls” is pictured. The dramatic play is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
For a second show in a row, the Warsaw Community High School Theatre Department is performing a show based on a true story.

“Theater is a vehicle for telling stories and telling important stories. And if you choose not to tell the important stories, then I feel it’s kind of on me. It’s kind of important for me to have my students learn about these things and then also teach the community,” said Director Melany Morris.

In October, the WCHS Select Theatre performed the play “The Yellow Boat” by David Saar. It was about a family and their young boy who was born with hemophilia and through his process with the doctor, he contracted AIDS. It was based on Saar’s own son Benjamin, who was born with congenital hemophilia.

This weekend, the fall play is “Radium Girls” by D.W. Gregory. Morris said, “It’s set in 1920. It’s based on a true story. It takes place in Orange, N.J. It is the story of these young women who are working in a watch factory called American Radium. And they are using radium paint for the watches because it glows in the dark for the men in the military so they can see at night.”

Back in 1920, Morris said they thought radium was a miracle cure for everything. They put it in water and sold it and people used it as cancer treatments. Then they discovered radium was really toxic and it started to kill all the girls working in the factory.

The play, she said, “is about our main character Grace and her fight against the factory. She watches her two best friends die from it and eventually she also gets really sick from it as well.”

The drama has a cast of 38 students. Morris said it’s become really popular in the theater world in the last year.

“It’s one of the top 10 most produced plays in the U.S. right now. It is new,” she said.

There’s a movie on NetFlix called “Radium Girls” now with the same story but different characters, she said.

In choosing the play, Morris said she was reading through “many, many plays” and wanted to be able to accommodate the number of students who auditioned, whether that was five or a hundred. She ended up having 70 audition, “which was super exciting and great” because “Radium Girls” allows the cast to be as few as nine or as many as 30. Morris stretched it to 38.

“That was one of the main reasons. The other reason is it’s just really, really cool – the way it flows and has all these opportunities for tech stuff. We’re using some black light and glow-in-the-dark paint. It’s going to be really cool visually, I think,” Morris said.

Shows are Friday, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the WCHS Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased at the box office or online through the Warsaw Performing Arts Facebook page @WarsawPAC.

Face masks are required for the audience, but social distancing and capacity limits are not. The cast will wear masks backstage but not on the stage.

“I think it’s going to be really, really cool. I’m very excited. We’re using a bunch of new theater technology I haven’t even used before. Our lighting designer hasn’t used them before either so it’s really cool to get to use those things. It’s a good story. It is sad but also it’s really important and it’s good information to just know and be aware of,” Morris said.

The cast of “Radium Girls” includes Elena Crawford as Grace Fryer, Trislynn Lind as Kathryn Schaub, Hailey Hershberger as Irene Rudolph, David Broadhurst as Tom Kreider, Ethan Betances as Arthur Roeder, Trevor Ott as Edward Markley, Edward Robison as Charlie Lee, Reagan Kauffman as Dr. Von Sochocky, Natalie Oler as Mrs. Alma Macneil, Isa Silva as Diane Roeder, Taya Perry as a young Harriet Roeder, Dania Presteguin as an older Harriet Roeder, Rae Polk as Anna Fryer, Cayla Harris as Katherine Wiley, Alek Fehlmann as Raymond Berry, Mikey Hertel as Dr. Cecil Drinker, Ethan Spencer as Dr. Harrison Martland, Joel Montoya as Dr. Joseph Knef, Josie Miller as Dr. Marie Curie, David Howard as Frederick Flinn Ph.D., Aubrey Harp as reporter, Alyssa Peña as sob sister, Brandon Leeka as William J.A. Bailey, Karissa Brath as Mrs. Michaels, Jessica Pogue as society woman, Elle Brouwer as clerk, Luke Henn as lovesick cowboy, Macy Bonifield as shop girl, Mikey Hertel as male shopper and Julian Uplinger as store owner.