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Theater

'Dixie's Tupperware Party' mixes theater and retail

| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 8:47 p.m.
Tupperware Impressions Classic Bowl Set
Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Impressions Classic Bowl Set Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Kris Andersson as Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.'
Credit: Bradford Rogne
Kris Andersson as Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.' Credit: Bradford Rogne
Kris Andersson as Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.'
Credit: Pittsburgh CLO
Kris Andersson as Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.' Credit: Pittsburgh CLO
Tupperware Chic Dining Cocktail Collection
Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Chic Dining Cocktail Collection Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Square Pick-A-Deli Container
Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Square Pick-A-Deli Container Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Smooth Chopper 
Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Tupperware Smooth Chopper Credit: Tupperware Brands Corp.
Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.'
Credit: Pittsburgh CLO
Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.' Credit: Pittsburgh CLO
Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.'
Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera
Dixie Longate in 'Dixie's Tupperware Party.'

Tupperware takes on a whole new life when Dixie Longate is burping the bowls.

Since 2001, the big-haired, fast-talking Alabama native and ex-con has been traveling around the nation — and to three foreign countries — selling bowls, entertaining audiences with her outrageous tales and observations and demonstrating creative uses for Tupperware products that would have most likely stunned and amazed company founder Earl Tupper.

“It's the best crap on the planet,” says Longate during a phone interview. “People love the tumblers that don't drip when you're drinking and driving.”

Kris Andersson, a Los Angeles actor and the man behind Longate, created the character and put her to work hosting Tupperware parties in “Dixie's Tupperware Party,” which comes to the Cabaret at Theater Square starting Thursday.

By 2004, Longate was one of Tupperware's top sellers and her Tupperware sales were supporting Andersson.

During interviews, Andersson prefers to remain in the background and let Longate speak for herself about how she found her calling: “When I got out of prison, my parole officer said you need a job to get your kids back. Some things I can't do because of the restraining orders. … This is kind of easy and fun — easier than dancing around a pole.”

Longate's Tupperware parties were a hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, and the show returned to Manhattan in 2007 and earned Andersson a 2008 Drama Desk Award nomination for outstanding one-person show.

After that, Longate left her kids in her Alabama trailer park home, took her bowls and tumblers on the road and has been touring ever since.

“It's real hard to take them on the road with you,” she says. But she does miss the martinis she taught her youngest, Absorbine Jr., to mix.

Longate identifies herself as “America's #1 Personal Seller of Tupperware,” and explains how she made that happen: “… me and some plastic bowls, and a bunch of drunk women somehow equals a lot of sales.”

Longate does all the work of running an authentic but wacky Tupperware party.

She warms up the crowd with tales of her life, demonstrates the features of her favorite products such as the Grate 'N Measure Grater that deposits the grated cheese directly into a measuring cup. She reminds people that there's more to Tupperware than plastic bowls. “We've got knives and cookware,” she says. “We've got the most incredible can opener.”

At the end of the show, she hands out catalogs and takes orders.

“We make sure everybody gets a catalog, plus there are some popular items I have with me,” she says.

But Nora Alonso, Tupperware Brand Corp.'s global public-relations manager, gives all the credit to Andersson.

“We are, in fact, very aware and proud of Dixie's a.k.a. Kris Andersson's successful Tupperware business. … (He) continues to be a successful Tupperware business owner by blending his passion for theater with his love of Tupperware products.”

Alonso is a bit more vague about titles and awards: “Our business has several categories where we recognize the top leaders. Mr. Andersson has been a constant presence in the top leadership of his Director level,” she says.

There's one other confusion Longate does want to clear up: “A lot of people think this is a show for ladies. It's for everybody who wants to come sit, laugh and have a good time,” she says. “Get your butt there, even if you don't like food storage.”

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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