Naples Daily News
June 16, 2004
Collier in the limelight
Local humorists' play puts history of Naples area in perspective.

First came the Calusas. Then came the Realtors. One was a hardy group capable of conquering a wild Southwest Florida. The others built shell mounds.

In between, more people flooded Collier County, too. Their stories - sort of - are being told by Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett in "The History of Collier County ... According to Us," an original production showing at the Norris Center in downtown Naples in June.

Compton and Bennett write an original satirical show every summer; often, Compton said, their productions focus on current Collier events. This summer, the duo decided that bringing a show to the newly opened Norris would require them to tackle a larger array of subjects.

Into their Collier history, Compton and Bennett drop digs at local government, local media and the lux local lifestyle. Above their musical numbers or skits flash photos from Collier's past and present.

The humorous point: There is no such thing as a native Neapolitan, Compton explained. And everything makes its mark.

"We had to include some current references to School Board issues, to red tide, the environmental issues, things concerning the hospital, the way that Fifth Avenue South has completely changed and the way the nature of the community has completely changed," Compton said.

The show's final song, "Red Tide and Black Water," is a comedic indictment of everything from household cleansers to local government, all of it running off into the Gulf and creating a toxic cocktail with which to toast Florida's future.

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