Behind the Scenes of CB South’s Radium Girls


Back on Stage (by Roshni Srikant)

Lights, camera, action! CB South’s play Radium Girls showcased the life of Grace Fryer, a dial painter at the US Radium Corporation in the 1920s, as she struggled to bring justice to those around her who had died from radium poisoning.

The show came to life on November 5 and 6. But what’s a show without the people behind it? Today, we’re going behind the scenes of this production.

Everyone had different moments to share about putting on a production in Covid times. For some, it was simply being able to hang out. For others, like those who were in productions in 2020-2021, being back on stage was like a fresh breath of life.

For Anna Stevens, who played Raymond Berry, it was “hanging out with friends, rehearsals, and having fun.”

For Ellena Fox, also known as Harriet Roeder, “seeing everyone” would be what she missed most.

Liv Jordan, who played Dr. Martland, voiced an interesting perspective about being onstage again in front of a live audience.

“Having the lights in my face again. I kind of missed it. It’s nice to be blinded by something again,” she said.

She also enjoyed the experience of “having friends being around, people who have the same interests, and being able to form a community with people you didn’t think you could.”

Noel Venable, the actress behind Irene Rudolph, loved “being able to perform live again.”

Mason McClintic, who was Head of Sound Tech, had a more specific moment in mind – “when we were in the green room for the first time and Mrs. LeClair started talking about… how we’re all one team and we’re all on one ship and we have to come together to put on this performance and there’s something almost special about that. That really resonated with me and made me remember why I did theater in the beginning. Titanic was really rough, and this was something that really rekindled the joy that I had from putting on this production, like being in theater as a whole and I really felt that moment.”

And for me, Roshni, my favorite part was finally getting a speaking role. It felt nice not to be melded into the background. Meeting people that I never dreamed I would be talking to also felt like a dream come true.

While everyone had their best moments, the highs did not come without the lows, and the cast and crew did face some setbacks.

Challenges and Triumphs (by Holly Mirales)

“It was definitely a phenomenal production in terms of being right back from the pandemic,” Mason continued. “It’s hard to put on a live performance, any live performance, but

it’s especially hard to be the first group to put on a live performance in almost two years at this point.”

As CB South’s inaugural theatre performance since before the COVID-19 lockdown, the cast and crew of Radium Girls faced a unique combination of challenges, some endemic to the world of theatre during a pandemic and others stemming from different issues.

As the Head of Sound Tech, Mason held total responsibility for the audio quality of the show, as he was the one in charge of the microphones and the sound booth.

“The hardest thing I had to face personally was really having to run the show live myself entirely, like doing all the setup,” Mason stated. “In the past, I would run shows, but they would often be engineered by other people, whereas having to do it myself is a different beast.”

He added, “You have to do everything yourself and there’s some specific skills that you don’t pick up unless you’re doing everything yourself.”

One such skill is equalizing.

“It’s a process that either reduces or boosts specific frequencies in order to make the voice sound better or to remove any unnecessary noises,” Mason explained.

During the production of Radium Girls, the sound crew faced a few issues that made the equalizing process much more difficult than it ordinarily would be.

One such issue was that the sound crew only had sixteen devices called elements to work with, but twenty microphones that all required those elements.

“We had functionally three-and-a-half mics that didn’t have the correct technology so they sound kind of garbage and one of the big things you have to do when you’re running the show is to try to account and fix these discrepancies in sound quality,” Mason said.

He continued, “While I think I did an alright job, it was something that I wish we had the right equipment to put on the best show possible.”

In addition to the difficulties brought on by the lack of elements, the sound crew also had to work with ensuring that the mics of cast members who opted to wear masks during the performance still had optimal audio quality.

“It is not the easiest to get good vocal quality out of a mask,” Mason said. “Luckily after a year of experience dealing with these masks, there were some subtle improvements in how we approached the problem, but it still did not make the production any easier.”

Mason and his upperclassmen colleagues in the sound crew gained experience working with masks last year, during South’s production of Titanic the Musical, which was filmed in lieu of a live performance. During Titanic, all cast members were required to wear masks during their scenes.

However, in Radium Girls, while the mask policy for rehearsals followed the policy for masking during the school days, actors could choose if they wanted to wear a mask during the performance or not.

Noel Venable, the actress who played Irene Rudolph, commented that “it’s weird not having masks on because it started to feel normal wearing them, especially when performing in large groups with an audience. It puts me on edge, but it’s easier to get used to than I thought.”

Liv Jordan, who played Dr. Martland, added that not having to wear a mask when performing is “not as difficult as people might think, but it is weird to not have to be constantly worried about it. I feel naked. So strange. Things that once felt normal now are not.”

Another challenge faced during the production was the sudden installation of a new lighting system, meaning that the lighting crew had to learn to operate the new technology rapidly.

“We all showed up to rehearsal one day – I want to say two weeks before the show started – and we all walk in and just see a bunch of boxes,” Mason remembered, “and we look up to see them completely replacing the light board and all the spotlights. Our lighting folk had quite a bit of challenge that they had to deal with.”

Although these challenges cropped up along the way, the cast and crew of Radium Girls overcame the obstacles in their way with resilience and grace as they worked to deftly convey the tragic yet important history of the workers who shaped modern labor rights, resulting in a moving performance.