The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Show Must Go On


Radium Girls

The lights are back on in Dillingham Hall as the 2021-2022 school year brings various theatrical opportunities for students. In March of 2020, the school suffered the temporary loss of its live arts programs when the Pandemic hit, stopping all performances for that year and the next. But with safety measures in place, performances in Dillingham Hall will resume, starting this semester. 

Since the school’s founding, theatrical productions have given students a unique place to channel their passions, emotions, and creativity. Punahou students in recent years performed in musical productions of Les Miserables and Into the Woods. In 2020, students were just finishing rehearsals for the musical Singin’ in the Rain when the cast heard that their work would not be showcased in a weekend of live performances. 

This year, however, live shows are slated to return to a reduced capacity in Dillingham Hall and the more intimate Drama Workshop (DWS). Both stages will offer unique viewing experiences with equally unique productions.

This semester, the drama department’s main stage production is Radium Girls. Director of Theatre Mrs. Moore describes the show as “a little slice of history.” The story follows a group of women working in a dial factory during the early 1900s. During that time, a radium mixture was used to paint watches and other equipment to glow in the dark. However, radium is toxic and the factory women dipped their brushes in that deadly mixture and licked their tips for a finer point. Over time those women died from the radiation. 

When asked why she chose this play, Mrs. Moore responded, “It’s a dark part of [US] history, and it’s fascinating because I love finding pieces of history that we didn’t learn about in our textbooks.” But Mrs. Moore notes that the real sinister part of this story is that “The company…[knew] that it was the radium [that] was killing them, and it was a big cover-up.” She hopes that audience members will be captivated by the story and blown away by the play’s talented cast. Performances will begin this week and more information can be found on the Punahou website. 

In addition to Radium Girls, Punahou seniors Kelsie Inouye ‘22 and Morgan McKinney ‘22 are staging the play Athena. As part of their independent project, Kelsie and Morgan, with the guidance of Mrs. Moore, are adapting Athena to the DWS stage. In their project, they are designing props and costumes, engineering stage lighting and sound, and directing a cast of three student actors. 

Morgan summarized the show, saying, “Athena is a one-act play… about two girls seeking companionship from one another. It takes the sport of fencing and turns it into a metaphor for adolescent relationships; the way so many kids… interact with their friends in quick-witted jabs of comfort and competition.”

Kelsie describes the ongoing process as “extremely rewarding for everyone involved,” but creating a play from nothing but a script is no easy task. However, both seniors are extremely excited to present their hard work this December. More information about showtimes will be shared by the Drama Department in the coming months. 

With Athena closing the first-semester theatrical calendar, the second semester will bring several special productions. In addition to the Class of 2022’s Variety Show and Triennial, the Middle School Drama Program will put on a production of the Princess and the Iso Peanut. The play is a Hawaiian retelling of the fairytale the Princess and the Pea and is to be performed on the main Dillingham stage. Finally, to wrap up the second semester, the Theatre Production Class will create and present a play in the DWS. 

This year will bring a vast array of opportunities to enjoy and take part in theatrical productions. Mrs. Moore encourages everyone to watch at least one of these shows and support their classmates and community members. When asked why, she said, “Theatre has the unique ability to bring people together around a story.”

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