Who’d have thought that plastic kitchenware would provide such ample inspiration for the stage?
Two seasons ago, I saw a sassy little show called Tupperware: An American Musical Fable, produced by the then brand-new theatre group, The New Colony. The musical explored how the concept of “Tupperware parties” empowered housewives in the ’50s, and introduced me to Brownie Wise, the savvy businesswoman behind the Tupperware party phenomenon.
In Tupperware: An American Musical Fable, Brownie Wise was an actual character in the play who drove the main character, a sad Floridian housewife, to take control of her life by selling Tupperware. In Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Ms. Wise serves as the inspiration behind Dixie Longate: a sassy southern mother of three who’s just trying to earn an honest dollar to make ends meet.
She’s sweet, she’s salty, she’s a little tipsy, and she loves, LOVES, selling her Tupperware. Yes, Dixie’s Tupperware Party is an actual Tupperware party. Meaning, you can follow along in your catalogue as she hilariously demonstrates each item, and then purchase the items after the show. But there’s absolutely no pressure to buy anything.
Oh, and Dixie’s also six feet tall — and a man in drag. She’s played by Los Angeles actor Kris Andersson, who also conceived and wrote the piece. (Watch Andersson out of drag selling Tupperware here. He’s actually an award-winning Tupperware powerseller, so you’re in good hands.)
The surprising thing is: this isn’t a campy, obnoxious drag show. Which is what I was expecting. Rather, you immediately feel at ease with Dixie — she’s not loud and brash, but rather soft spoken and sharp tongued. Be prepared: it’s essentially an interactive standup routine, so you may be picked on — but we’re all in this together, so just sit back and enjoy the ride. In addition, Dixie likes to slip in some naughty language on more than a few occasions, so this is not a show for anyone under 16 or for the easily offended (which included the sweet elderly couple next to me who I think audibly winced when Dixie compared the seal on a Tupperware item to a vagina).
While we’re laughing and having a great time, the end trips itself up a bit. Andersson attempts to insert a dramatic arc into the show by giving us a bit of sad backstory behind Dixie’s willpower (an abusive boyfriend), and how Ms. Wise served as her personal icon for dusting herself off and standing up to adversity. Fine, but these moments are a big tonal shift to an otherwise bubbly affair, and need to be better integrated into the evening. Or removed entirely.
Other than that, I really enjoyed my time at Dixie’s Tupperware Party, laughed much, much more than ever I thought I would, and highly recommend it for a girl’s night out (and by “girls,” I also mean “gays”) or a date night.
“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” is currently playing at the Royal George Theatre Cabaret (1641 N. Halsted, Chicago) through May 15 as part of a 20 city national tour. Tickets and more info here>