The Theater Project Stage Manager Julie Poland (center) gives the cast a pep talk before rehearsal for the group’s new musical comedy, “SQUEEZE ME!.” Maria Skillings / The Times Record

The Theater Project in Brunswick presents a new musical comedy called “SQUEEZE ME!,” about a crew of loveable misfits working in a plastics factory, opening July 6.

Set in New York City in the early 1960s, the musical tells the story of Loretta, a divorcee who is desperate to keep her plastics factory afloat after her ex stole the patents and best employees. To save Fantastic Plastic, she commissions the first industrial musical — a show performed by employees to boost morale and drum up investors.

Playwright Brian Daly said the idea for the show came after watching “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” a documentary starring writer Steve Young, who collected lost audio files of great musicals. Daly said some of those songs included the work of Hank Beebe, a Portland native who wrote multiple industrial musicals for companies like General Electric.

The Theater Project has dedicated “SQUEEZE ME!” to Beebe.

Daly said he is proud of the show being a musical within a musical that features a female underdog.

“I’m drawn to the underdogs, who are driven to do their best even if nobody is paying attention to them,” he said. “Whether we call them artists or pros, they follow their hearts and hold nothing back. I respect that, and I want them to have their chance to shine.”


Lead actress Shannon Thurston said her character Loretta is “driven not to fail.” Thurston said the essence of the musical is akin to the popular TV show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” a comedy about a 1950s housewife who becomes a standup comic despite family protests.

The show features 20 musical numbers with dance stylings of funk, vaudeville, Bollywood, Irish step and ballroom.

Director Zach Stern said the show’s lyrics and musical arrangements are “real toe-tappers” and will have patrons humming all the way home. In addition to the memorable melodies, Stern said the audience will empathize with the cast of characters.

“We worked hard on ensuring that these ‘larger-than-life personalities’ are represented genuinely in an authentic way rather than caricatures of stereotypical people (i.e. scientists, accountants, etc.),” he said. “This way, the story translates more effectively to the people who are in the audience.”

“It’s fun, it’s light, it’s sweet and entertaining. I think it’s got heart,” said actress Lucy Poland.

Daly wouldn’t explain the strange title of the show and insisted, “You’ll have to come and see for yourself.”

“SQUEEZE ME!” runs July 6-23 at The Theater Project at 14 School St., Brunswick.

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