“Factory Girls” review

Two weekends ago, the musical “Factory Girls” played at Lowell High School to rave reviews, but I missed those performances and so this past weekend I saw the show at the Boston Conservatory. It was outstanding, both from entertainment and historical perspectives. Set in 19th Century Lowell and directed by Lowell-native Neil Donohoe, the play follows the experiences of Lowell mill girls like Lucy Larcom and Sarah Bagley as they exult over their good fortune at escaping the drudgery of farm life to the excitement of the city and the wonders of earning pay that they can use as they see fit. Despite workdays in excess of twelve hours, the girls all gather in the attic of their rooming house to compose articles for The Lowell Offering, the literary journal that forms the real-life script of the play. But the idyllic life in Lowell doesn’t last forever; the mill owners demand more work and longer hours for less pay. The second half of the show maps the internal struggle faced by the young women as they debate joining a strike at the risk of losing the jobs they are so dependent upon.

“Factory Girls” is a great show. I know of no other performances currently scheduled, but the show will undoubtedly return sometime soon. When it does, I hope many Lowell residents take the opportunity to see it.

One Response to “Factory Girls” review

  1. George DeLuca says:

    I attended the play “Factory Girls” at the Burgoyne Theatre at Lowell High School on Sat. June 5, and was overwhelmed by the “essence” of the time period captured by the troupe. We owe Director and native Lowellian Neil Donohue a debt of gratitude for bringing us this seminal presentation of what life as a Lowell mill girl was like.

    For fellow Lowell natives; even though the play covers the 1840s, you can’t help but sense the intimacy of the experiences shared with you by your mother or grandmother (my mother was a doffer). It was heartwarming to note that not only was the play that I attended packed, but many of the attendees were senior citizens who more than likely were mill workers themselves at some point in their lives.

    The music, the acting, the troupe style singing is all reminiscent of Andrew Lord Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”. It’s that good! The poignant music and lyrics of “Factory Girls” are by Creighton Irons and Sean Mahoney. Hats off to them and all those involved in the production!

    If you missed the musical, be on the lookout for the next opportunity to see “Factory Girls”. For Lowell natives especially, it’s an emotional and exhirarating ride. Seeing it in Lowell in the actual area of where it all happened was a special treat, especially on the heels of the spectaculor Civil War 150th Anniversary commemoration, with the fine presentations by our Lowell historians and LHNP personnel. Lowell truly has become a first rate “virtual classroom” for students of history of all ages!