Behind the Curtain: North Hills Drama Club

Behind the Curtain: North Hills Drama Club

Evan Medfisch, Staff Writer

In August, the North Hills High School stage was just that: a stage. Throughout September and October, the stage expanded piece by piece and became a home away from home, yet again, for the North Hills Drama Club. By November, the stage had transformed into an abstract set of large, glow-in-the-dark watch faces – the temporary home of Radium Girls. In January, the process will begin again. However, the end product will be Cinderella’s castle! After the success of this fall’s play and in anticipation of this spring’s musical, I asked various Drama Club members to describe their experiences behind the scenes of Radium Girls and how they felt about the production.

Mary Rodack, a junior involved with stage crew, commented on the abstract set of the show. “I loved the set! I think it fit perfectly with the show’s mood.” The play was considered a risk by many people due to its violent subject matter. Therefore, the stage was decorated in ominous watch faces, which were missing numbers. “The enormous clocks dominated the stage, which showed how the women’s jobs began to dominate their lives” (Fun Fact: the watches were made simply out of foam boards and paint). For those who don’t know, Radium Girls tells the story of a group of women working for the United States Radium Corporation. After exposure to paint with radium, they began to develop horrific side effects, such as cancer and radiation poisoning. Unfortunately, their job did truly dominate their lives. In planning for the spring musical, Mary stated: “I think the set for Cinderella should be more realistic. The show isn’t as serious, and the cast will need space to sing and dance.”

Josh Mann, a junior cast member, has had the unique opportunity to participate on stage starting in ninth grade rather than tenth. He has participated in four high school productions already: 42nd Street, Incognito, Footloose, and Radium Girls. “I enjoyed performing a play based on true events because it brought the story more to life,” said Josh with regard to Radium Girls. When asked about the predicted success of Cinderella, Josh replied: “After the success of Footloose and Radium Girls, I do believe that Cinderella will be successful. The Drama Club always pulls together to put on a good show.”

One major aspect of musical theatre that many spectators unfortunately tend to gloss over is stage makeup. However, with a show such as Radium Girls, the makeup was impossible to ignore. Raven Noell, a senior, gladly took on the task of decorating the girls’ faces with bruises, wrinkles, and veins. “I love putting my work out there for people to see,” said Raven. “It’s stressful in the beginning—the directors want it just so. It’s also hard to teach other people how to apply the makeup correctly after teaching myself how to do it, but it’s worth it. Since I don’t sing or dance, makeup is my way of performing.” The makeup was truly terrifying throughout the show. As the girls got sick, their faces did reflect that. Raven clarifies: “I got my degree from the University of Youtube. I learned simply by watching videos and copying what I saw.” Looking ahead to Cinderella, set to open after Easter, Raven is unsure as to whether her skills will be needed in the same way: “I’m not sure that Cinderella requires as much makeup, but I can’t stop now. I’ve worked every show either backstage or with makeup.” After the success of such a risky and daring play, the Drama Club is clearly prepared to perfect such a classic musical as Cinderella. “I love spending time with all my drama kids,” adds Raven. “I wouldn’t miss the shows for the world.”