By Lynn Venhaus
At Pelican Roost, an active senior living community, 70-something is the new 20-something, but with looser skin.
“Assisted Living: The Musical” promises the tales that grandma is not going to reveal. Think if the Smothers Brothers and the Golden Girls partnered to produce a show.
“Imagine a world in which no one expects you to work, no one can get pregnant, and where you get a 20 percent discount just for being alive. That’s ‘Assisted Living,’” said writer-performer Betsy Bennett.
She and Rick Compton, her creative partner, will be playing 18 characters, each with unique answers to later-in-life’s questions.
This is not your grandma’s assisted living. Original songs include “Help! I’ve Fallen (For You) and I Can’t Get Up,” “WalkerDude@Facebook.Com” and “The Uplifting Viagra Medley.”
The pair will perform “Assisted Living: The Musical” at the Playhouse at Westport from Aug. 1 to 11. They have a different take on aging.
“Old age is no more about fixed incomes and disability than youth is about student debt and hangovers,” Compton said.
They have been writing and performing together since 1995, mainly political and social satire in and around Naples, Fla.
Bennett is a life-long theatre denizen, starting professionally in summer stock when she was 15. She has a theatre degree from Albion College, and followed that with an internship at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Betsy co-founded Arcane Theatriks, a professional company in Chicago. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild and has been cast in more than 90 productions.
Compton leads the creative life since escaping from the corporate world in 1988. Since then, he founded Via Colori®, a small chain of annual street painting festivals, toured Japan as a keyboardist for The Platters, and authored a children’s activity book called The Essential Street Painter (Simon & Schuster).
Rick’s won several regional awards for magazine articles and is a member of The Dramatists Guild. Rick has played piano and synthesizer in the pit for more than a dozen musicals and served as musical director for several more.
“Assisted Living: The Musical” opened in Naples, Fla., in 2010. The Tampa Times said it is “A Joy to savor and savor again.” The San Francisco Examiner called it “wickedly funny.”
Emery Entertainment presents “Assisted Living: The Musical” Aug. 1-11 at the Playhouse at Westport, 635 Westport Plaza. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased through MetroTix at www.metrotix.com or by calling 314-534-1111. Tickets are also available at the Playhouse box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more should call 314-402-2430 for special rates. For more information, visit www.playhouseatwestport.com
QUESTIONS WITH BETSY AND RICK
1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?
It really never seemed like a choice.
2. How would your friends describe you?
One Stooge short of a comedy classic.
3. How do you like to spend your spare time?
Rick works on his land and Betsy enjoys cooking, traveling and watching Star Trek reruns.
4. What is your current obsession?
Writing our third Assisted Living: The Musical ® show.
5. What would people be surprised to find out about you?
That we aren’t married to each other.
6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?
Betsy: an internship with Playwright’s Horizons and Andre Bishop Rick: Leaving the corporate world to live the creative life.
7. Who do you admire most?
Professionally: Dan Goggin and Roger Bean
8. What is at the top of on your bucket list?
An off-Broadway run.
9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?
Play the Playhouse at Westport Plaza!
10. What’s next?
Rehearse our holiday show: THE HOME…for the holidays!
More Information About Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett
Name: Rick Compton & Betsy Bennett
Age: Rick: 69
Birthplace: Rick is from Ohio. Betsy is from Michigan.
Current location: Naples, Florida
Family: Rick lives with his wife, three horses, two Corgis, a peacock and a pig. Betsy has a son.
Education: Rick: The Ohio State University Betsy: Albion College
Day job: This is our day job.
First job: Betsy: Filing in her father’s office for 50 cents an hour. Rick: Caddy at the Pickaway County Country Club.
First role: Rick: Small Dog in Hansel and Gretel in second grade Betsy: Small Child in The King and I in fourth grade
Favorite roles/plays: Rick: Piano Player in Pump Boys and Dinettes Betsy: Mama Rose in Gypsy
Dream role/play: Rick: Dream play – to write The Story of Judd
about the dark farm hand in Oklahoma. Betsy: Dream role – Would love to
play Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly
Awards/Honors/Achievements: We had a song on NPR’s Car Talk
Favorite quote/words to live by: “Have more fun!”
A song that makes you happy: William Tell Overture