BWW Review: ASSISTED LIVING: THE MUSICAL Makes Retirement Look Fun
Assisted Living: The Musical, written and performed by comedy duo Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett, and accompanied by pianist Jeremy Franklin Goodman, is a hilarious little 75-minute distraction from life's real aches and pains, playing now at The Playhouse at Westport Plaza. The vaudeville-style musical revue is set in the present day at Pelican Roost, a senior living community, where eighteen colorful characters take turns giving the real scoop on life after a person's AARP membership starts. The story (what loose story there is) is framed within bookend scenes wherein a narrating couple wears halos and looks back at their last many years on earth while they resided at Pelican Roost-where "even the defibrillator is shaped like a pelican."
In these fondly-remembered years at Pelican Roost, everything was just swell. There were no alarm clocks, no pregnancies, and the drugs were all legal. It was like a cruise really, except the final destination was not the Bahamas. They lived through skinny dipping and steak nights, learning how to use the internet, owners' association obligations, and lots of "hoochie coochie coo," too.
Particularly amusing numbers include "Help! I've Fallen (For You) and I Can't Get Up" about a resident whose scooter breaks down while making a pass at a lady near the cholesterol monitoring station. "My Hide" is a jaunty little number to the tune of "Rawhide" that starts with the very singable, "Saggin' saggin' saggin' / oh my tush is draggin' / and my tits are saggin' / my hide," and it just gets funnier from there. "Goin' Mobile," is a doo-wop melody highlighting a couple of pretty tricked-out walkers (a.k.a. "senior pimpmobiles"), which are loaded not only with the typical yellow tennis ball feet, but also with golf clubs, Hello Kitty towels, and decorative string lights. Perhaps the funniest of all is a Viagra-inspired tune appropriately called "The Uplifting Medley," and we'll just say with practically singalong-able inclusions like, "There's no agra like VI-agra like no agra I know," it inspires big laughs. Ahem.
With just a few wigs, hats, glasses, jackets, and well-chosen props, Compton and Bennett bring the eighteen different energetic characters to life through great timing and transitions. A couple of the more memorable characters include the flamboyant Naomi Lipshitz-Yamamoto-Murphy, who gets an apartment upgrade every time she buries a husband; a Wellness Center nurse whose job is to educate, medicate, and lubricate the residents as she reminds us, "It's okay to get close, but don't get something gross!"; and a slickly-dressed compensation lawyer whose mission is to sell us all on "extended life liability" and "injury remembrance" suits. "If you do not remember being injured," he says, "Call me. You can trust me because I'm a lawyer."
This show is unquestionably light on plot, and it's definitely not something that will have you pondering any depth of humanity, but it is a sunny little comedy with entertaining characters and lots of get-up-and-go. Whether you're at retirement age or you want a peek at what's in store for the best years of a life, this one just may get you smiling and clapping along. Assisted Living: The Musical plays through August 11 at The Playhouse at Westport Plaza. For more information and tickets, https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/assisted-living.