Interactive 'Dixie's Tupperware Party' opening run


Perhaps you’ve kept your name off the guest list at “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.”

Maybe you’re scared of “Marriage Can Be Murder” or other examples of audience-interaction theater.

But never fear — Dixie’s here, and armed with an array of what she calls “plastic crap,” from a Wonderlier bowl to a Keep-it-Krunchy cereal set.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, you might get hit with a double entendre.

After all, Dixie’s mighty fond of them — as audience members will undoubtedly discover when “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” settles into The Smith Center’s Troesh Studio Theatre Thursday for a five-performance run.

Dixie, more formally, is Dixie Longate, Tupperware Lady extraordinaire.

Technically, she’s a fictional character — created by a he, an alter ego dreamed up by once-struggling actor Kris Andersson to help him hawk Tupperware while decked out in sky-high hair and sky-high heels.

But even offstage, Dixie’s the one who does the talking.

Taking a break from the national tour that’s been going strong since 2008 — following a 2007 off-Broadway debut — Dixie dishes about everything from the weather at home (a Mobile, Ala., trailer park) to the excitement of playing Las Vegas. (On stage, not in a casino — because, as she explains, “I’m not much of a gambler.”)

Back home in Mobile, tropical storm Chantal has just blown through, threatening the architectural integrity of Dixie’s teased, towering coiffure.

“I don’t know her, but she’s a meanie,” Dixie quips.

As for Las Vegas’ triple-digit summers, “I’ve heard it’s like a dry heat,” she says. “My oven’s dry, but I don’t want to live in it.”

That’s about the only discouraging word Dixie utters in connection with the prospect of performing in Pair-a-dice.

Indeed, Las Vegas seems like an ideal locale for Dixie’s particular brand of demonstration theater, filled with humorous tales, bawdy jokes, audience participation — and free giveaways.

“From what I understand, y’all like to party,” she notes. And beyond that, “y’all like to do things and pretend you never did them.”

It’s the “what happens in Vegas” syndrome — and there’s a piece of Tupperware for that.

Take the Rectangular Cake Taker, which can tote a 9-by-13-inch single or double-layer cake — or you can flip the bottom to carry 18 cupcakes.

But, as Dixie observes, “you can take some Jell-O shots to church in some amazing thing.” — including the very same $49 Rectangular Cake Taker.

From can openers to corkscrews, Tupperware’s rainbow-hued array of inventive implements adds to the comic impact of Dixie’s risque sales pitches.

And yes, the sales part is real — so bring your cash or credit card, in case you want to buy some of Dixie’s “plastic crap.”

Given audience interaction, she says, every show changes.

“I never know who’s going to be onstage with me,” she says.

That also explains why the length of the show varies (it’s usually in the 90- to 120-minute range), because “the audiences are playing along so much.”

During the show, Dixie dishes about her family back in Mobile: kids Wynona , Dwayne and Absorbine Jr. (You may not hear about her three ex-husbands, all of whom have departed this particular dimension.)

When she first hit the Tupperware trail, Dixie was fresh out of the slammer and looking for a way to make ends meet.

Having a job also was a condition of getting her kids back — although, as she told her parole officer at the time, “I don’t want my kids back; is that absolutely necessary?”

It was, which explains how Dixie wound up following in the inspirational footsteps of thousands of Tupperware ladies who blazed the trail before her.

It’s also why Dixie turns serious — sort of — when she ponders what she calls “the original social network.”

For post-World War II housewives and mothers, meeting and greeting counterparts at neighborhood Tupperware parties proved a great way to get together and get out of the house, she says, being with friends — and making some new ones.

For that, Dixie and her fellow Tupperware sales mavens owe a debt to Brownie Wise, who pioneered the Tupperware party concept in the late ’40s.

Dixie pays tribute to Wise during the show — in between demonstrations of Tupperware’s endless uses. (Including imbibing red, red wine from a Tupperware Tumbler with Drip-Less Straw Seal.)

When Dixie first started selling Tupperware, “I thought it was old-lady stuff,” she says.

But she changed her mind after her first Tupperware party. Besides, “the free drinks at the party were a total bonus.”

And after a dozen years of successful selling, Dixie plans to keep on keepin’ on “till I fall down off my heels.”

That’s a long way to fall.

“I think, when I get my hair all teased up, I’m about 6 foot 4,” Dixie says. “When my heels and hair are down, I’m only about 5 foot 2.”

And Smith Center audiences will definitely be seeing Dixie when she’s all teased up — and touting the wonders of Wonderlier bowls, Ice Prisms party plates and Zest ’N Press citrus gadget to the assembled “Tupperware Party” crowd.

“A lot of times, people think it’s just a show for ladies,” Dixie says of her stage presentation. “But men friends come in all the time.”

After all, it’s “a room full of ladies — and that’s a nice thing.”

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

 

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