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Tupperware didn’t come out of nowhere, it took a gal with the gussy gumption of Brownie Wise to make it a household name by making it a party. And that’s just what Kris Andersson, as the quick-witted, hyperactive Dixie Longate, so admires about Wise, a mid-century single mom who took a product off the store shelf and brought it into the living rooms of America by organizing Tupperware parties. When inventor/CEO Earl Tupper learned of her success, he appointed her V.P. of Tupperware Home Parties and made her a household name while she made him millions. When he thought she was getting too big for her britches, he gave her a year’s salary and kicked her to the curb. She died in 1992 in obscurity. But that wasn’t the end of the party.
The rise and fall of Brownie Wise is only the thematic backbone of Kris Andersson’s frenetic, often hilarious and always endearing one-woman show. With the help of audience members sitting on upstage couches left and right, Dixie, in her baby blue dress with matching eye shadow and headband around outlandish big red hair, launches into her 100-minute infomercial on the wonders of the ware.
Along the way we learn she is the mother of three back in Mobile; her youngest is named Absorbine, Jr.; her favorite candy is Big Hunk and Jell-O shots are like regular Jell-O except they make you take your pants off.
Among the many audience participants, poor Patrick from the front row had trouble working a revolutionary new can opener while Dixie mimed the right way to do it. It is a great bit of spontaneous physical comedy with Andersson milking the moment for all its worth, yet remaining mindful of how long is too long, as it looked like Patrick would never figure the damn thing out.
Good cheer and belly laughs aside, the most impressive feat of the night was Andersson’s ability to keep it going. Once Dixie starts talking there’s no stopping her. The jokes come fast with her chatty southern drawl spills out at a delirious 100 words-per-minute. You might think, with no real conflict or drama involved, it would become grating real fast, but it doesn’t.
Late in the show the jokes thin out as she talks about Hector, her ex-husband, who beat her. Divorced three times, Dixie is nothing if not resilient, bouncing back from heartbreak to earn the number two best salesperson award at the annual Jubilee. Dixie won’t be kicked to the curb and neither should anyone, not even her idol, Brownie Wise.
The number one salesperson at the Jubilee that year only beat her because she sold items on the Internet. Dixie would rather come in second than resort to that because the most important part of a Tupperware party isn’t the Tupperware, it’s the party. In the end, Dixie knows it’s not “the fantastic plastic crap” that matters, it’s the people.
Venue: The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at The Geffen, Westwood (runs through Aug. 3)
Cast: Kris Andersson
Director: Patrick Richwood
Playwright: Kris Andersson
Lighting designer: Richard Winkler
Sound designer: Christopher K. Bond
Presented by KL Management
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