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Youth Academy's 'Radium Girls' tells story about fight for workplace safety.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Victoria White performd in Radium Girls, STAGES newest production at HART Theater in Hillsboro. STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy is creating glow-in-the-dark theater with its newest production, "Radium Girls."

From Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 13, students across Washington County have rehearsed for a show about sticking up for yourself, facing corporate greed and rooting for the underdog.

Director Tanner Morton said he selected the play for the actors to learn because of how the story pertains to current events, despite it taking place over 100 years ago.

"Radium Girls" takes audiences back to the 1920s, when chemist Marie Curie — internationally known for discovering radium — and women and teenage girls are at the forefront helping the war movement.

As three teenagers work in a factory painting luminous paint on watch faces for soldiers to see in the dark, they become mysteriously ill. One brave employee, Grace Fryer, decides to stand up to the U.S. Radium Corp.

With a cast of 13, Morton said the team has worked on character development and taking on a serious drama.

"I think they really can relate to it because the heroine is a teenager," he said. "Her friends, who are fighting for their day in court, are too. One thing we have talked to them all about is these were real people just like them."

Also a novel, "Radium Girls" hits on the history of workers' compensation and the common man rising up against faceless corporations.

"This is good for audiences who want to push themselves and see something real on stage," Morton said. "It isn't so heavy that it will impact them in a negative way, but I think people who are into history will love it."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Aubrey Slaughter, Lily Frerichs and Victoria White participate in STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy and star in its newest production, Radium Girls.Morton heads a program at STAGES that allows younger actors with more experience to work with actors over 18 who have no acting experience. The program is designed for the participants to learn from one another, Morton said, and "Radium Girls" is a production that brings this group together onstage.

"I want to push these kids to explore theater," Morton said. "Here, they work together and individually to bring the story to life, and learn from each other."

The cast includes Lily Frerichs as the main character Grace Fryer, as well as Aubrey Slaughter, Victoria White, Adrianna Denslinger, Isabella Steele, Gabriel Mendies, Ayo Alaka, Kieran Thomas, Lucas Ray, Francis Kohler and Hannah Vertner.

Tickets will be on sale at the door at HART Theater, 185 S.E. Washington St., Hillsboro. Shows are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays.

After Saturday performances, there will be a "talk-back" session for actors to answer questions from the audience.

For more information on "Radium Girls," visit

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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