Dixie’s Tupperware Party, LA

Now in its sixth national tour, this evening of shtick is good for a few laughs if you don't mind the premise.

Written by Kris Andersson

Directed by Patrick Richwood

The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse

July 8 – Aug. 3, 2014

Are you thinking you caught me leaving out some important information in the heading? Like the actor’s name? Well, I am glad you are awake, but here is the dilemma: At this point I think I should put in a spoiler alert, except what I am about to say can be found with a quick Internet search. Instead of a spoiler alert, I am calling this a “reader beware” caution. I believe the detail to come makes the performance to follow, should you go, a great deal funnier. And I think the show needs the help.

Despite the lead bio in the program section, Dixie Longate (actor), and the touching tale of her post-prison redemption through Tupperware sales, is in fact the invention of writer Kris Andersson (no photo). After attending a Tupperware party in 2001, where the unemployed actor felt like a fish out of water, he was dared by friends to put on a Tupperware party of his own. He did, in drag with a large helping of clothes-on raunch. Not only was he good at selling the stuff, he was in demand largely by conservative Republican ladies. He was so good he placed third in the nation in sales and was honored at their annual sales convention where he appeared in an off-the-shoulder gown with Texas-sized red hair. In 2004 he presented his act — his shtick, call it whatever you want, it is not a play — at the New York Fringe Festival. From there it went to Off Broadway and is now on its sixth national tour.

If it is not a play, what am I talking about here? I am talking about sitting at the Geffen Playhouse’s second stage for one hour and forty minutes, at an actual Tupperware party. For more years than I care to mention, I have avoided such an event; what on earth could have motivated me to go to this one? Well, generally the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater presents things that are more interesting than those on the Geffen’s main stage; little did I expect to find a Tupperware catalog and order form on my armrest. Yup, the multicolored, collapsible bowls with no-spill lids, and the cupcake carrier that can double as a Jell-O shot holder — a Dixie innovation — are sitting right there on the stage along with other assorted gadgets. Four women are selected from the audience to sit on the two on-stage couches, and there are many opportunities for audience participation, whether you go in for that sort of thing. There is also a sales rep in the outer lobby. Dixie still sells thousands of dollars of the “crap” &mdash: her word, not mine.

Dixie prances around the stage in high heels wearing an early 1960s-style dress, sipping wine (so she says) from her no-spill Tupperware cup, talking a mile a minute or faster, repeating herself ad nauseam, and slurring her speech beyond belief. Oh, she is funny for a while, but an hour and forty minutes? Puh-lease. One night during the run there was a false fire alarm and the audience had to clear out for 25 minutes. I am told a number did not return. I feel their pain.

Dixie intersperses her sales pitch with the story of Brownie Wise, who brought the marketing idea of selling Tupperware through these parties to the original founder. She also tells her own tale of being a single mom in a trailer park in Mobile, Ala., losing custody of her three children — the youngest named Absorbine Jr. — while in prison and finding inspiration from a Tupperware bowl on her parole officer’s desk. Tupperware is the vehicle that brought her self-respect, a concept she preaches to her party attendees. Take it or leave it, that is as close to an arc you will find in this work.

In fairness to Dixie, the audience laughed along at her antics and the members who were summoned onto the stage were incredibly good humored about it. I was happy to get out of there and have a drink. If I have not scared you off yet, you too might it enjoy it. Personally, I would rather watch “The Colbert Report.”

Karen Weinstein

Los Angeles, CA
Weinstein is a clinical psychologist who teaches in the medical school at UCLA. She also holds a master's degree in Urban Studies and has a strong interest in history and architecture, as well as the theater.