STUDENT INTERVIEW: Leading Woman of “Radium Girls”, Krysten Schmelzer

Contrary to what you might believe, Radium Girls is NOT a show about a bunch of girls who wander into the same laboratory as Spider-Man and become superheroes. This incredible play, inspired by a true story, tells a story…well, you know what? We’ll let somebody else tell you about it.

This week, we got a chance to talk to one of the front-runners of the production, leading woman Krysten Schmelzer.

INSTARAM: What is your major/year?
KRYSTEN SCHMELZER: I’m a theatre major, and I’m a sophomore.

What are you involved with on campus?
SCHMELZER: I’m involved with Sketchual Misconduct. It’s our Suffolk University sketch comedy troupe. We’re going to be performing at Improv Boston [Edit: Next month, on March 6th!]. We’re just a gushy, mushy, gross family. We talk about farts.

What attracted you to theatre?
SCHMELZER: I saw my sister doing it when I was really little, and when I saw her onstage she just shined. I wanted to be just like her. She was really the one who inspired me to get into it.

What can you tell us about Radium Girls?
SCHMELZER: It’s an awesome play. It’s in an awesome style – Brecht theatre – which we really don’t do a lot of anymore, but I think it’s really cool. It’s a very interesting style of theatre where you’re really going to see us as actors and as characters? The stage is really going to be split into two, which is really quite interesting.

Radium Girls is about a group of girls who work at the radium plants in the early 1900s into the 1920s. What they would do was paint radium onto watch dials for soldiers in the war, so they would glow in the dark so they could see what time it was. It really helped them through the first world war. Then, a bunch of the girls started to get sick from it. The radium company tries to cover it all up. The play is really about these girls and their fight to try to get what they deserve: their compensation, and the public awareness.

What is your role in the show?
SCHMELZER: I am Grace Fryer, I am one of the radium girls. I see the effects of it from a bunch of angles. ”

How did you get into character for the show?
SCHMELZER: I actually associate myself a lot with Grace. I see a lot of myself in her. It was really easy to see how strong of a person she is. It is really incredible to play a stronger version of myself onstage.

How is working with the cast?
SCHMELZER: The cast has been amazing. I have learned so much, not only from my director, but also from my castmates. Though we haven’t really known each other for that long, it has been an amazing experience. We love each other. It’s a great chemistry onstage, and a great working environment. It’s all about your style, and growing. Nobody is trying to tear you down, everybody is just trying to push you up and make you better. It’s a team effort.

Do you think the show has any messages that are still important today?
SCHMELZER:  Oh, yeah! Radium Girls really parallels with today’s world, with corporations, the lower class trying to fight for what they deserve, and being rewarded for all of their hard work. I think that it’s really important, especially with the girls. It happens to all kinds of girls today, who just get pushed under the rug. It really shows that we’re just as powerful.

Final question: How have rehearsals been with all of these snow days?
SCHMELZER: Well, we missed about a good week of rehearsals.  It’s been pretty hard. But we did meet up a couple of times on the snow days to run lines and get it all done. It’s a heavy play, so we didn’t really have time to lose.

Special thanks to Krysten Schmelzer for taking the time to talk to us during her tech week! Come see Radium Girls, this weekend!
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