Assisted Living: The Musical

Assisted Living: The Musical

Scottsdale Center for the Arts Stage Two, Scottsdale, AZ, January 20, 2023

Reviewed by Lynn Timmons Edwards

Assisted Living: The Musical is a vaudeville-style, 85-minute cabaret of songs and sketches on the topic of aging. Two actors, Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett, play 18 characters who are spending their golden years at Pelican Roost Wellness Center. Finding themselves in the afterlife after they suspect their son had pulled their plugs to get Dad’s Corvette, the opening couple reminisce about the best times of their lives. We then meet a series of their neighbors and fellow residents: a sleezy lawyer who wants to be trusted to Ben Younger a terrible comic who is retired from the Catskills to my favorite, Naomi Lipshitz-Yamamoto-Murphy, who upgraded her residence as each husband passed on.

Compton and Bennett, also the authors of the show, are suited to playing 75-year-olds both vocally and physically. Their professional partnership goes back to 1998 when they co-hosted a radio program and then co-produced the 50th Gala for the Naples (FL) Players. There was an amateur feel to the production, but in a good way. Community theater entertains us because it is us—it could be us up there on stage telling our stories.

The Stage Two Scottsdale Center audience was full, and there were plenty of millennials in it along with boomers who were clearly entertained by the song and dance routines.  Composer/music director/pianist Jeremy Franklin Goodman handled the accompaniment and added some vocals. Highlights of the show included a parody on the “Theme from Rawhide” sung by Bennett that had the lyrics “saggin’ saggin’ saggin, gotta fix my wagon” about plastic surgery. It was later reprised by a character who regretted getting a rooster tattoo on her butt; the predictable punch line was “cock-a-doodle-doo” coming out as “any cock will do.” Bennett’s comic timing was stellar in the role of the resident nurse of the Pelican Roost naming the residents who were exposing each other to potential STDs.

Compton shined on “Drive-Thru Window,” which cleverly used two stools as he steered his Coup de Ville, Cadillac of Steel and portrayed the reality of a 93-year-old who can no longer see or hear being out on the roads. He was also fun in a Cheerios racing jacket singing an ode to his golf cart. The music was simple, but it included tight harmonies. Compton and Bennett are clearly experienced and confident performers.  “Doo Walk” was a clever song-and-dance number that suggested the walker was the Pimpmobile of Pelican Roost. The 11-o’clock number was a mash-up of nine pop tunes, ranging from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” to “Up, Up and Away” to “There’s No Business Like Show Business”; they were used to parody the little blue pill, which was so vital in keeping the ladies of Pelican Roost satisfied. Compton blew up a long, blue balloon which was one of many uses of shtick during the evening. The show’s ending came full circle, back to the recently deceased couple, and we all joined in on “Going to the Chapel and I’m Gonna Get Buried—Going to the Chapel Above.”

There are plenty of groaner moments throughout the show, but the sketch comedy moved quickly, and one person’s boredom is another’s belly laugh. Compton and Bennett grew up in the time of TV’s Laugh-In and it shows. Assisted Living has been a commercial success for them. It can be licensed to both professional and community theaters, and the Florida-based duo are currently booked across the country. You can learn more about the actors and the show at HOME (  Bravo to the Scottsdale Center for booking the show in their smaller Stage Two Theater and offering 2 and 5 p.m. matinees January 19-22, 2023.

Lynn Timmons Edwards

Lynn writes and performs themed cabaret shows based on the songs of the Great American Songbook throughout Arizona. She has had three short plays produced in the Theatre Artists Studio Festival of Summer Shorts and is working on a full length play, "Fairy," based on the life of Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, a founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona. In addition to writing and singing, Lynn plays bridge and tennis and enjoys traveling with her husband and artistic companion, Bob. Born in Ohio, Lynn is a graduate of Denison University (BA), Arizona State University (MPA) and has lived in Arizona since 1977.