Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to a Tupperware party. Well, you’ve never been to one like this! Dixie’s Tupperware Party, on an eight-week run at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, is a confluence of theater, standup comedy, improv, and, well, a Tupperware party. Seriously. Instead of a copy of Playbill patrons receive a Tupperware catalog, order form, and even a pen.
The brainchild of comedian Kris Andersson, who also plays fast-talking, big-haired Alabama Tupperware Lady Dixie Longate, Dixie’s Tupperware Party opened off Broadway in 2007. Andersson earned a 2008 Drama Desk nomination for solo performance. But be warned: this is not your mama’s Tupperware party.
The Cabaret at the Royal George is an intimate theatre space, perfect for the show. Before you are shown your seat, you’re asked to put on a numbered name badge, the importance of which comes clear as the show proceeds. Before the lights go up (there is no curtain) and you are shown into Dixie’s living room/Tupperware demo space, Dixie scans the audience, saying hi and warming everyone up.
As the show begins, Dixie pours herself a nice tall glass of Jack Daniels and tells the audience just how she got into selling Tupperware. It’s a tale of woe and admiration for Brownie Wise, the woman who launched a million home selling parties (and the first woman to make the cover of Business Week, according to Dixie!).
The party begins with a demonstration of Tupperware’s magic corkscrew. It’s a great comic bit that sets up the tone of the rest of the hour and 45 minute show. Mind you, this is a real, genuine Tupperware corkscrew and Dixie is indeed one of the best selling Tupperware “ladies” out there (and I do mean “out there”). She (and I suppose now is the appropriate time to tell you: Dixie is actually a “he” in female trailer-trash clothing) places a wine bottle suggestively between her thighs and screws (and screws, and screws, she describes) the corkscrew until it’s nice and tight. And then what, she asks the audience wickedly? “You screw it harder!” And when you’re done, of course you pull it out. The cork. From the bottle. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)
And so it goes throughout the show, with Dixie inserting two door prize drawings (hence the numbers on the name tags) and a contest—all with prizes! (I have to admit for the sake of full disclosure, my number was one of two randomly pulled for a raffle, and I won a keychain replica of Tupperware’s ubiquitous toddler toy—the shape ball.) To get my prize, Dixie and I had a heart-to-heart talk in front of the audience about what one does with a something dangling and ball-shaped (like the keychain; what were you thinking?). I’m not sure if I laughed or blushed more during the segment.
The show is not for everyone. It is very adult, and if you are easily offended by a guy in drag posing as a stereotyped southern Tupperware lady, then I’d suggest you find something else to see. But Dixie’s Tupperware Party is a scream. It’s an immersive theater experience, and it becomes easy to think you are actually sitting in someone’s living room considering whether to buy the meat marinating container (let your imagination run wild and you’ll get the visual here) or the collapsible bowls. (And Dixie will meet you in the foyer after the show for your Tupperware buying pleasure—really!) Between the sales pitches, Dixie extolls the virtues of Wise while liberally partaking of alcoholic beverages and expressing disdain for her ex-husbands and three kids (the youngest of whom is called “Absorbine Jr.”!).
Tickets are $44 for weeknight performances and $49 on weekends. The show runs through May 15.