College of DuPage College Theater Presents Melanie Marnich’s ‘These Shining Lives’ Oct. 5 to 22

These Shining Lives image

By Ann Fink

College of DuPage College Theater presents Melanie Marnich’s “These Shining Lives” directed by guest director Michael Ryczek at the McAninch Arts Center’s Studio Theatre, on the Glen Ellyn campus, 425 Fawell Blvd.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5 to 22.

Based on a true story, “These Shining Lives” chronicles the strength and determination of four women who contract radium poisoning while working at the watch company, Radium Dial. It is post-war 1920’s and women are getting a chance for well-paying jobs, uncharacteristic for the time. Catherine, Frances, Charlotte and Pearl are working at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Ill., painting the hour markings onto watch dials using a radium compound which glows in the dark. The company tells them there is no evidence the radium is harmful, however after a few years, the workers notice their hands are glowing in the dark and they develop ailments including jaw infections and bone pain. When the women finally find a doctor who is willing to put his name on the line and diagnose the women with radium poisoning, the women decide to file a lawsuit against the company. Attorney Leonard Grossman takes the case for free with Catherine as the lead plaintiff.

The cast for “These Shining Lives” includes Jacqueline Davis (Naperville), Alexandra Price (Downers Grove), Katelyn McKeon (Chicago), Felicity Gould (Roselle), Nathan Cozzi (Naperville), Will Powell (Glen Ellyn), Will Romer (Naperville) and Michael Bellino (Addison),

Workshopped during the Centerstage’s 2006-2007 First Look series, “These Shining Lives had its world premiere in 2008 at the Head Theater at Centerstage in Baltimore, M.D. A musical version of the play debuted to critical acclaim at Skokie’s Northlight Theatre in 2015.

Melanie Marnich (playwright), originally from Duluth, Minn. is a Golden Globe-winning writer and an internationally produced, award-winning playwright. She has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2005. Awards include two McKnight Advancement Grants and two Jerome Fellowships from The Playwrights’ Center, the Samuel Goldwyn Award, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award and the Melvoin Award from Northlight Theatre (Chicago).  Marnich’s plays have been produced or developed at New York’s Public Theater, London’s Royal Court Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Portland Center Stage, The Actors Studio, Geva Theatre, Hyde Park Theatre, American Theater Company, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Commissions include, the Kennedy Center, Guthrie Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage and South Coast Repertory. She is a Core Member of The Playwrights’ Center and has been a writer on “Big Love” the Showtime series, “The Big C.”

Michael Ryczek (director) is an adjunct faculty member at College of DuPage and has directed a number of student productions here including “All My Sons,” “Dog Sees God,” “Plaza Suite” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.”  He has spent the last eight years teaching directing at Columbia College Chicago where he directed a number of musicals including “Splendora,” “Hairspray” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Ryczek freelances in Chicago, where he resides, as an actor and director. He received his BA in Theatre from Roosevelt University and his MA in Theatre from Northwestern University.

Other members of the design team include Aurora’s Michael W. Moon (scenic and sound design), Wheaton’s Kimberly G. Morris (costume design) and Glen Ellyn’s Jon Gantt (lighting design). Stage manager is Addison’s Caryna Martinez-Rios.

Offering an Associate in Arts degree, the COD College Theater program offers a variety of courses including Acting I and II, Acting for the Camera, Audition, Dance Theatre I and II, Directing, Improvisation, Stage Combat – Armed and Unarmed, Stagecraft, Stage Management, Stage Movement, Stage Make-up, Technical Production, Theater Appreciation and Voice Over Acting. Support is made possible by a generous gift from the College of DuPage Foundation’s Dr. Donald and Helen (Gum) Westlake Fund for Student Productions. For more information visit

A pre-show discussion with the designers and director will be held at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, and a post-show discussion with the director and actors will take place immediately following the Friday, Oct. 13, performance.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors and students. For tickets or more information call (630) 942-4000 or visit Please note: This play uses adult language and themes.

College of DuPage

425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137

(630) 942-2800 (Main)

(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)

  2017 College of DuPage