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March 29, 2024

Theatre Northwest to present ‘Radium Girls’ April 11-14

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Northwest Missouri State University’s Theatre Northwest concludes its 2023-2024 season this spring with a drama based on the true story of female laborers who were poisoned and killed by a factory’s radium-based paint.

The play, “Radium Girls,” takes the stage for performances at 7:30 p.m. April 11-13 and 2 p.m. April 14 in the Studio Theater at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased at or at the door with a credit card up to one hour before show time.

The play – written by D.W. Gregory and directed by Dr. Joe Kreizinger, a professor of theatre and the chair of Northwest’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts – depicts Grace Fryer, a watch dial painter who finds herself battling for her day in court, despite fear that her campaign for justice will backfire. The women with whom Grace worked at the U.S. Radium Plant during the 1920s had been instructed to prepare their radium-tainted brushes by molding the bristles with their mouths while painting.

“Whenever one sees a docudrama-type production such as this, it seems to connect at a deeper level knowing that these events, as incredible and at times as horrific as they may be, are a part of our actual history,” Kreizinger said. “These real events affected the lives of hundreds, and our cast is proud to tell their story and honor their memory.”  

Grace Garrigan, a junior speech theatre education major from Council Bluffs, Iowa, plays the role of Grace Fryer.

“This role means so much more to me and comes with so much responsibility because I want to embody Grace as she truly was and as she deserves,” Garrigan said. “This also has helped me as I go on to my educational career as now I will be able to help my students who take on such an important role and emphasize the amount of compassion and care a role like this requires.” 

With a cast filled out by Grace’s friends, coworkers, lovers, family, attorneys and scientists, “Radium Girls” offers a wry, unflinching look at obsessions with health, wealth and the commercialization of science.

“I hope audiences are reminded to recognize the power of individual voices – often that of those who may feel they have little voice,” Kreizinger said. “While the events of this production occurred a century ago, class struggles still exist, and perhaps the audience will think of those, which still do and even what they may do to intervene.”   

For more information about Theatre Northwest, call 660.562.1321 or email


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215