"Assisted Living: The Musical" Grabs Senior Spotlight

Musical theater has a centuries' old history, but very few productions have a long run or turn a profit. Legions of stories abound about Broadway plays that close within a week of opening or never open at all.

In Naples, Florida, a show called "Assisted Living: The Musical" is breaking all the rules by playing 1,000 times by the end of March, 2012. The two fixtures of the show are Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett who have been gaining a reputation as Southwest Florida musical satirist since 1996.

The genesis for "Assisted Living" came in a dinner theater parking lot. "Someone asked what our next show was," related Bennett to naplesnews.com. "Rick looked over and there was a woman getting up with a walker. He blurted out 'Assisted Living' and I tacked on 'The Musical.' We looked at each other and go 'Now we have to write it!'"

Compton targets baby boomers as the show's audience — "moving through society like a big, fat pig through a skinny, anorexic python" he told the media source. The message: to embrace aging and not fight it.

"We are absolutely the most selfish and self-gratified generation in the history of man," Compton tells naplesnews.com. "When the kids moved away, we got e-mail and Skype. When we hit puberty, we got birth control pills." Bennett added:"And when our generation couldn't get it, we had Viagra!"

A series of sold-out dates at a restauraunt/entertainment establishment, Fred's Food, Fun and Spirits, in Naples, Florida in the summer of 2009, was covered by a Miami Associated Press writer and led to news stories by BBC and ABC World News.

A tour took the duo on a 3,000-mile road trip that took down the Eastern Seaboard in 2010. Now, the show has landed in New York, re-written for a large cast. A full run-through of "Assisted Living: The Musical" has been undertaken by new producer, Douglas Gray.

"We brought the show out of Florida, but we didn't want to take the 'Florida' out of the show." Gray told the media source. "Our goal was simply to have some other performers work with the material and have the authors learn from that experience."

"There is still a whole lot of denial — that this is not happening to us," Compton told naplesnews.com. "But if it is a charade, it is a really elaborate charade!"