Stage Crew: The Unsung Heroes of “Radium Girls”


Katie Gilligan

“Radium Girls” cast members perform under atmospheric green stage lighting and an elaborate glowing brick wall backdrop, thanks to the show’s talented stage crew, in the high school auditorium on Nov. 14, 2022.

Jessica Ackerman, Arts Editor

The stage crew for “Radium Girls,” the high school’s fall play, which was staged last month in the high school auditorium, deserve a standing ovation of their own for their masterful work on the show.

The set was incredibly intricate, and it truly exhibited every necessary detail from the play. From the glow-in-the-dark brick wall backdrop, to the U.S. Radium Corporation emblem on the door, to the larger-than-life glowing clock hanging from the rigs, each detail added exponentially to the harrowing recounting of the tragic events that unfolded 100 years ago, in Orange, New Jersey, only 25 minutes away from Randolph.

Among the notable backstage stars of the show were crew members Sophia Fliegler, Caroline Marconi, Hayley Ross, Olivia Madayag-Williams, Nicholas Zelley, Angela Remick, Jay Randel, John DeBruycker, Molly McKeown, Samantha Heidinger, Freddie Sanchez, Sophie Shluper, and Tyler Pietrzykowski. Dressed in period-appropriate steampunk ensembles, walkie talkies in hand, they helped carry “Radium Girls” through its three remarkable performances.

Multiple aspects of this show required the acquisition of new materials and skills for the group, one of which was creating a neon-green glow-in-the-dark paint to represent the actual radium. “The neon paint literally got all over us, but it’s a memory we’ll have forever,” stage manager Sophia Fliegler recalled.

Another unique aspect of the set was the platform structure, made in collaboration with the actors’ blocking to represent the superiority that the company men had over the young women falling victim to radium poisoning. With a round center piece, four ramps descending from each side, and LED lights under the ramps, it was anything but easy to construct, and required endless creativity.

Fortunately, fifth-year lead set builder Nicholas Zelley was equipped for the challenge. “There were no structural challenges [with the platform]. It was a piece of cake,” he said. His exceptional work in set design had also been featured in many past high school productions and was recently recognized with a Jimmy Award nomination following the club’s spring 2022 musical production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Under the direction of Jennifer Marchesi, the stage crew were also tasked with typical backstage responsibilities, such as managing curtains and moving sets, which were all preceded by an enormous commitment to the many projects necessary to build the set.

All stage crews, despite their hours of dedication, tend to be overshadowed by the performing talent. However, the crew members had a cast hierarchy of their own, with Fliegler and Marconi as the stage managers, the backstage equivalent of “leading roles.”

Each crew member contributed their expertise in architecture and design to put on an elaborate ensemble performance, just as stunning as the play itself.  Being able to fabricate an entirely new world on a 50-foot-wide stage in less than three months is truly what puts the “art” in performing arts.

They work humbly; stage crew sometimes only get a bow on the closing night of a production, and they receive only a fraction of the accolades of their cast counterparts. However, the hard work and dedication they put into Radium Girl is deserving of as much applause as the actors and actresses on stage.

Stage crew members, if you’re reading this, please take a bow.