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.