Beautiful Radiant Things, the story of the anarchist Emma Goldman’s 50th birthday in the Missouri State Penitentiary for Women, was produced with a local cast, orchestra and crew, and performed at Star Hall on Saturday, February 17 at 7 pm, and Sunday, February 18 at 2 pm. The performances benefited KZMU. Tickets were $15 and were available at Back of Beyond, WabiSabi and Canyonlands Copy Center.
The play, featuring more than 30 pieces of music, stars Laurel Hagen as Emma Goldman; Kya Marienfeld as political prisoner Kate Richards O’Hare; Melissa Graciosa as Aggie the Lifer; Haley Austin as the prostitute Heather Campbell; Jenna Whetzel as the drug dealer Lottie Funk; Michele Johnson as the thief Lulu Bibbs; and Rachel Anne Kersch as the counterfeiter Minnie Eddy. Doni Kiffmeyer plays the Warden, and served for the third year as the announcer for KZMU’s live radio play. Erin Greenley assisted with singing ads.
The orchestra featured Jessica Retka on piano, Josie Kovash on bass, Miriam Graham on concertina, Jeff Gutierrez on saxophone and Bobby Hollahan on trombone and tuba. The crew included Marlene Mody, Joanne Savoie, Bob Owen, Dave Montgomery, Kaitlin Myers and Serah Mead. Marty Durlin, also the composer/playwright, directed.
The title of the play comes from Goldman’s statement, “I want freedom, the right to self-expression and everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” She is perhaps best known for saying, “I don’t want to be in your revolution if I can’t dance.”