Curtains: Dixie's Tupperware Party at Mesa Arts Center
Say it out loud, hookers: "Dixie Longate." Mmmm, they sure do. Photo by Bradford Rogne.
Hey, it's another one-person off-Broadway touring show that features a lot of audience interaction. This trend is probably a good thing, with all these big expensive new Valley venues to fill up with stuff. So the late Spalding Gray these people ain't -- they're still interesting new writer/performers who demonstrate to audiences and presenters alike that not every slot needs to be filled with The Sound of Music or The Odd Couple. I hope.
Dixie's Tupperware Party was conceived when struggling L.A. actor Kris Andersson started selling Tupperware in drag. Within a few years, Andersson was among the top three sellers in the U.S., and the party moved to the New York International Fringe Festival. With contributions from playwright Elizabeth Meriwether, the show's become crazy popular -- and Andersson remains Tupperware's top "personal seller."
Andersson's alter ego, Dixie Longate, is a paroled felon from Alabama who hustles the "fantastic plastic crap" to support her three children: Dwayne, Wynona, and little Absorbine, Jr. Warm, sassy, and naughty, Dixie flirts and extemporizes her way through 90 minutes that really fly by and left me craving this super can opener. (Although you can buy Tupperware from Andersson online at that link, Dixie also takes in-person orders after every single performance and refers to her chief rival in sales, who relies heavily on Internet orders, as a "cold whore.")
The Mesa Arts Center's Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse is a great setting for this show. The nine rows of steeply raked seating bring everyone up close and make it easy for Dixie to run around in the audience, dragging people up on stage for party sofa seating, raffle prizes, and a "rimming" contest that is not what you might think (but you'll still want to leave the kids at home).
It all sounds like a potential nightmare of earnest enthusiasm, doesn't it? But in fact, everybody has a swell time, no one gets too embarrassed, and there's even a sincere empowerment message in Dixie's story. It works because she's a character who's so friendly and joyous that you just have to smile back and join in the fun.
Dixie's Tupperware Party runs through Sunday, January 25, in the Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street. Tickets are $35; order here or call 480-644-6500.