For just the second time in 20 years, Half Moon Bay High School’s drama program will host a fall production. And it certainly picked a rich and complex play for the 2019 effort.
Inspired by a true story, “Radium Girls” follows the journey of Grace Fryer, a watch dial painter in New Jersey in the mid-1920s. She goes to court to argue that the radium has been poisoning her co-workers. Her charges contradicted popular opinion at the time, as radium, discovered by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie in 1898, was seen as a fashionable commodity, making watches and clocks glow around the world. In suing the United States Radium Corp., conflict arose between her friends, family and corporate America.
The play was written by D.W. Gregory in 2000. Though the setting is historical, the subject matter weaves in layers of complex modern societal issues, from corporate corruption to journalism ethics and labor conditions. Tickets cost $10 and can be reserved online at hmbhs.seatyourself.biz or bought day-of with cash or check.
This time around, student director Bella Forth decided to move from costume design to try her hand at directing. The show provides the junior with valuable experiences as she looks to have a career in event planning.
“Running all the different aspects of this, from lights and sound, stage and prop managers, is preparing me for that career path, which is really exciting,” she said.
For talented senior leads Jamie McIntosh and Logan Bautista, this play represents a special opportunity of rare magnitude. With three musicals under their belts, they were eager to take up the challenge of new characters in intense roles.
“You only get so many times to take the stage in this kind of way,” Bautista said. “It’s such a blessing we get to do it.”
“As an actor, it’s nice to spread out a little, because we’ve done a lot of happy shows,” McIntosh said. “Like ‘Mama Mia’ was very feel-good, so it’s nice to delve into something else.”
Both students referenced how far the cast has come since the early rehearsals in September. That transition and learning of roles is something program director and English teacher Jim Ward is familiar with. His passion for getting students to nail a role is evident when watching the rehearsals. Ward strives to bring the best out in his students, especially in a two-hour play that touches on many elements of life, including work issues, love, health and relationships.
He said that he wants audience members to say, “I’m not just going to a high school play because my kids or my friends are in it. I’m going to it because it’s well acted, a good stor, and moving.”