Monday, December 16, 2013

Auditions Announced for ‘Radium Girls’

Poster by Laura Mauffray Borchert

Auditions for Slidell Little Theatre’s production of Radium Girls, will be held January 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. at the community theatre.

The cast calls for 4 to 5 men and 5 women of varying ages, with some doubling of roles. Director Sara Pagones has left open the possibility of expanding the cast size depending on the number of people auditioning for the play.

In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage—until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees. As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire.

Written with warmth and humor, Radium Girls is a fast-moving, highly theatrical ensemble piece for 9 to 10 actors, who play more than 30 parts—friends, co-workers, lovers, relatives, attorneys, scientists, consumer advocates, and myriad interested bystanders. Called a "powerful" and "engrossing" drama by critics, Radium Girls offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science.

List of Main Characters

GRACE FRYER, a deeply sincere woman, she is always concerned with doing what’s right. At the start of the play, she, like almost everyone else, believes in the great goodness of science, but through the course of the play, she faces the trials of questioning what goodness really is as she suffers through her illness inflicted by the radium paint she worked with.

KATHRYN SCHAUB, a friend of Grace, she is the dreamiest and most romantic of the three girls, always filled with ideas of love. Kathryn is the first to really sense the danger they’re all in, and becomes truly afraid. As her own illness progresses, she becomes more and more cynical, believing that people will do and say anything, except what’s right.

IRENE RUDOLPH, Kathryn’s cousin, is age seventeen at the start of the play. Later, she is in her twenties. She is the more pragmatic of the three girls – down-to-earth, straightforward, almost cynical, and sometimes tactlessly blunt. She is the first of the three dial painter girls to die.

KATHERINE WILEY is the executive director of the New Jersey Consumer’s League. She is a strong-willed woman with moral fiber, and works to help Grace go to trial against the U.S. Radium corp.

SOB SISTER (Nancy Jane Harlan), is a tabloid reporter. She follows the story of the “Radium Girls” and gives them publicity, though the presentation of her stories tend to be a little more scandalous and outrageous.

REPORTER (Jack/Jane Youngwood), works for the Newark Ledger He, like the Sob Sister, follows the story of the “Radium Girls” and gives them publicity. He is perhaps a little more dignified in his journalism than the Sob Sister.

MRS. ANNA FRYER is Grace’s mother, and the mother of many other children. She is a pragmatic woman, concerned with finances and all things practical.

MRS. ALMA MACNEIL is the supervisor of the dial painter girls, and possibly Irish. She is a hard woman who is concerned with her work and its quality, likely to a fault.

MRS. ARTHUR (DIANE) ROEDER is Arthur Roeder’s wife. She enjoys being the wife of a company president, and because she cares about her husband, she cares about the company. She believes in the good that her husband is able to do.

DR. MARIE CURIE is Polish by birth (she has the Polish accent), She is credited with the “discovery” of radium.

HARRIET ROEDER is the daughter of Arthur Roeder, age nine at the beginning of the play, and later in her thirties, telling her father how he needs to find a hobby and forget the past.

ARTHUR ROEDER is age thirty-four at the start of the play, and sixty-five at its close. Becomes president of the U.S. Radium Corp. It is when he takes over the company that the switch from dial painting to more medical pursuits is made. He is a husband and a father, and a good man, believing that what he is doing is the right thing (he views Knef’s offer to be immoral), and the greatness of the American Dream.

TOM KREIDER is Grace’s fiancĂ©, and a postal worker. Though he is somewhat concerned about money (certainly not to the extent of Grace’s mother), he is more concerned with getting married to Grace and starting a life with her.

C.B. “CHARLIE” LEE, at first Roeder’s vice president of the company, later becomes president. He is a true businessman, concerned most of all by the good of the company and the company’s purpose: to sell watches.

EDWARD MARKLEY works as counsel for the U.S. Radium Corp. He’s a calm, rational, matter-of-fact sort of man. Though when threatened or in the face of danger, he can be cold, very cold.

DR. VON SOCHOCKY is the founder of the U.S. Radium Corp., and the inventor of the luminous paint. When the girls all get sick, he is burdened with guilt, so he offers to testify for them. He himself gets sick from the radiation; with the girls, it was in their jaws, for him, it’s in his hands.

RAYMOND BERRY is the attorney for the dial painters. He is generally concerned about the welfare of the girls, to the point of disagreeing with Ms. Wiley’s tactic of using journalism and public sympathy for reform.

DR. JOSEPH KNEF is at first Irene’s dentist, then Grace’s. He is the one to advise Grace to go to the company for help on the grounds that the company should feel obligated to help, that there’s a moral obligation. Later, he tries to make a deal with the company to come up with “favorable diagnoses” for any of the factory girls who come to see him.

DR. FREDERICK FLINN, PH.D is a fifty-something academic, warm and friendly. Works in physiology at Columbia University, industrial hygiene. He tells Grace that the radium has nothing to do with her ailment, but he is working for the company.

Monday, December 9, 2013

John Giraud - Connecting Through Music

John Giraud’s many talents are on display practically year-round at Slidell Little Theatre where he’s usually serving as the music director for shows like Seussical, Evita, The Producers, and Ragtime

A teacher of Talented Music for the St. Tammany Parish School Board, John has composed music for two original shows – Little Musical (with Scott Sauber) and Widow Bride – both making their world debut on our stage.

John Giraud in SLT’s production of
“Man of La Mancha.”
 Photo courtesy Paul Wood Photography

He just finished leading the orchestra in Slidell High’s production of Singin’ in the Rain and he also sings Opera on Tap with New Orleans Opera.  Back in 2009 he wowed audiences as Don Quixote in SLT’s production of Man of la Mancha.

Last summer John sang in a production of A Little Night Music for Summer Lyric at Tulane, his alma mater.

We caught up with John during his busy rehearsal schedule as director of our production of The Gifts of the Magi to find out a bit more about him.

Q: What was your earliest involvement in theatre?

GIRAUD: My first time on stage was at Le Petit in the French Quarter. I sang the role of Tony in a production of West Side Story.

Q: What attracted you to theatre to begin with?

GIRAUD: When I was a boy, my parents took us to see Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans. My dad managed to get tickets on the front row, but they were all the way against the side wall. Nevertheless, it was incredible because I was able to gaze in wonderment into the orchestra pit and see the amazing musicians as they were warming up and tuning their instruments. Then during the show, I watched in awe as Peter Pan flew out over the audience. It was magical.
Q: What is it about theatre that holds your interest today?

GIRAUD: It is alive. It is a point of connection. As we become more isolated through technology, it is important to gather together with a crowd of people you don’t necessarily know and share a journey through theatrical storytelling.

Q: What are five plays that you’ll never forget and why?

1) Little Musical and Widow Bride at Slidell Little Theatre, because I wrote the music. 

3) The King and I at the Saenger in New Orleans starring Yul Brenner, because he was defiantly fighting cancer and commanding the stage at the same time.

4) Sunset Boulevard on Broadway, because it was the first show I saw in New York

5) Les Miserables in London’s West End, because it changed me.

Q: What play do you think people should see, but probably haven’t?

GIRAUD: Unto These Hills at the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina. It is performed in an outdoor amphitheater at sunset as the smoke starts to drift through the mountains which serve as the backdrop.

Q: What was the oddest play you ever saw, directed or starred in?

GIRAUD: Not odd but probably the most unorthodox: I played music for an almost-all female cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Q: What was the best advice you ever received about acting?

GIRAUD: Be true to the character, even if your voice feels less than 100% or you miss a line. The audience won’t mind as much if they see it happening to the character and not the actor.

Interview conducted by Don Redman

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Gifts of the Fayards

O. Henry’s beautiful little story, “The Gift of the Magi,” tells the tale of deep personal sacrifice some people will make to provide a gift to a loved one during Christmastime, believing earnestly that it is better to give than to receive. There’s a Slidell couple who wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment....

Local Family Brings Christmas Cheer to ‘Adopted’ Family

By: Justin Redman 

Christmas is the time of the year when a child’s face lights up with excitement from every present she opens from Santa. A time when families come together and enjoy the company of each other exchange gifts, and eat delicious foods. Each family has its own tradition, be it Secret Santa, Dirty Santa or just exchanging names, but for one Slidell family their tradition is the embodiment of the Christmas Spirit.

Jack Fayard, his wife Angela, and a few members of their family have not exchanged gifts with
Angela and Jack Fayard
each other since 2007.  That was the year they started their “Adopt a Family for Christmas tradition.”  Every year for Christmas, the Fayarads will adopt a family that is struggling financially or who otherwise would  not  be able to experience this joyous time of year.

Christmas is a big deal for Jack and his family. Growing up, Jack’s parents would ensure that every Christmas was a merry one and it didn’t matter if his parents’ business was busy or slow throughout the year. This feeling that Jack experienced growing is what drives him and his family every year to adopt a family who for whatever reason cannot afford the simplest of things. 

Jack believes that every family should be able to experience a festive Christmas and with the aid of friends and families who help by donating items that are on the list of the adopted family.  The Fayards are not part of an organization, and they handle every aspect of organizing, collecting donations and delivering the gifts to the family themselves.  Jack and his family have friends at various churches that help them with the selection of the family.

Since Jack started Adopt a Family for Christmas in 2007, the Fayards have helped seven families and this year because of the huge offering of support from their friends they will be adopting two families.  Jack looks forward to this every year and says that this is a huge blessing for his family.   For Jack to see a family a joyous Christmas is an honor and hopes that this is a family tradition that will continue for years to come.

Slidell Little Theatre’s production of “The Gifts of the Magi” – a musical homage to O. Henry’s classic tale – is on stage weekend through December 15.
Make reservations online at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Director's Vision: Giraud Discusses 'Magi'

John Giraud, the director of SLT’s production of “The Gifts of the Magi,” talks about his vision for the musical now onstage at Slidell Little Theatre through Dec. 15, 2013....

Tell us about your vision and inspirations for your production.

Inspired by the newsboy narrator, Giraud keeps
with the newspaper theme to decorate the cityscape.
 (Photo by Don Redman)

Giraud : I see this show as a storybook tale for grown-ups. Since the narrator of the story is a paperboy, I thought it would be interesting to use newspapers in representing the city skyline. The husband character, Jim, sings about how “a new frost upon the city covers up the grime”, hence the layer of white on top. The actors themselves provide great inspiration for the show. In rehearsals, they bring their own ideas and suggestions of how to tell the story. What we end up with is something greater than I had originally imagined.

What are the challenges to staging this production?

Giraud: The biggest challenge to staging this production is making sure that it stays simple. The O. Henry plays are so strong on their own. The music and staging should enhance the stories of “The Cop and the Anthem” and “The Gift of the Magi”. You don’t want the packaging to outshine the gift itself.

What the audience can expect to see?

Giraud: The audience can expect to see very talented local actors giving a Christmas present to this community. They have given up many family dinners, weekend events, and sleep in order
to put this show together. Amid the bustle of the Holiday season, I hope that watching this show helps you remember all the things you love about Christmas! 
Della and Jim Dillingham (Jessica Stubbs and Rob Reidenauer)
try to keep Christmas simple in SLT’s production of
“The Gifts of the Magi.”
(Photo by Justin Redman)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Meet the Poster Artist

Photos of an Alaskan landscape, a window pane and an early sunrise combine to make exquisite “Magi’ poster

Cameron J. Metrejean
Cameron j. Metrejean, a student attending Northwestern Louisiana University in Natchitoches, was in rehearsal  for the college’s production of West Side Story when he first got word that he had been chosen to design a show poster for Slidell Little Theatre.

His enthusiasm quickly gave way to panic.

“Shortly after the excitement wore off I got nervous,” he said. “I suddenly had something to live up to and I had no idea what I was going to do for this poster.”

Slidell Little Theatre routinely relies on the kindness of individuals willing to freely volunteer their talents and earlier in 2013 Cameron had responded to the theatre’s call for poster artists and submitted an application with sample works.

This was not Cameron’s first show poster; he had designed posters and playbills for such shows as The Importance of Being Earnest, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.

But that didn’t calm his nerves when it came to coming up with a design idea for SLT’s production of The Gifts of the Magi.

“I quickly looked up the show and found that I had heard of this story before and a few minutes later I had an idea. That’s what half an hour of nervousness does to me,” he said.

Cameron has “dabbled in photography” for several years, but it wasn’t until he attended college that he started apply his photography to show posters.

“I got that the image would be of a wrapped gift with light shining down on it,” he said, explaining his initial conceptual process. “I wanted the poster to have a sense of being timeless, so it could work for any generation. That is why nothing you see in the picture is out of place or anachronistic aside from the red bow which purposefully stands out brighter in contrast to the rest of the picture.”

The final poster image is an amalgamation of three photos: The frosted window frame, the snowy landscape, and the table with the wrapped gift.

“The landscape picture was one I had taken myself a couple years back while in Anchorage, Alaska, back when I was still taking pictures with a pocket camera,” he said. “I had seen a beautiful gap in the clouds that emitted some wonderful looking sunlight and I had to capture it.”

The table shot proved to take a little more effort though.

“Though I’m much more savvy with Photoshop than the average person I knew I wouldn’t be able to throw too many separate elements together convincingly,” he said. “I needed natural morning light for the picture, and luckily there was a table in my dorm room right in front of a window on the side where the sun rose.”

But there was a tiny detail he still had to overcome – the table belonged to his roommate and Cameron needed to use it right where it was in order to capture the sunrise light. And to state the obvious, Cameron would be creating quite a bit of a commotion early in the morning to catch the sunlight.

Fortunately, his roommate had made plans to spend the night elsewhere and granted Cameron permission to clear the table off for his photo shoot  as long as Cameron promised to “put everything back the way it was.”

“The night before the picture I cleared off his table, dusted it off, spread one of my white bed sheets over it to serve as the likeness of a fine tablecloth, and placed the items on the table,” he explained. “The gift package was some pieces of cardboard that I had wrapped in a brown paper bag wrapped in a piece of elastic (not twine as it is able to emulate from a distance). Perhaps it was the college student in me but I had learned to be resourceful with some things.

“But the center piece package wasn’t the only gift in the picture. I couldn’t help myself and decided to throw in a little nuance to picture referencing the show. If you look closely you’ll see a hair accessory on the corner of the top book on the left side and a gold watch chain hanging out of the wooden box on the right side.”

The next morning’s shoot went as he had planned, resulting in nearly 20 photos of the tableau in varying degrees of sunlight.

Cameron eventually combined the photos of Alaska, the frosted window frame and the sun kissed gifts on the table to create the single poster for “The Gifts of the Magi.”

“It's a poster that I hope piques people's interest and prepares them for an engaging show,” he said.

Cameron is currently majoring in Performance and Directing Theatre at Northwestern State University where he has performed in West Side Story and Touched: a Neutral Mask Piece