By CAROL WATERLOO FRAZIER
Thirteen years ago, Dixie Longate started selling Tupperware — on the suggestion of her parole officer.
Beginning on Sept. 4, she’ll be bringing her one-person show to the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Cabaret stage.
“Dixie’s Tupperware Party” is just that — a get-together to “sell” the plasticware while imparting some advice about life.
“I had been doing Tupperware parties for years and someone said I should put what I do into a show,” Longate said.
The rest, as they say, is history. The show, written by Kris Andersson, debuted at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival. Andersson teamed with playwright Elizabeth Meriwether and director Alex Timbers to create the Off Broadway production in 2007 that was unveiled at Ars Nova. The show received a 2007-08 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance.
After an eight-week run in Los Angeles, Longate is bringing her show back to the Cabaret.
“I was here a couple of years ago and I’m honored to be asked to come back for six weeks,” she said. “The response has been so great that four extra shows.”
The show, in it’s seventh year of touring, continues through Oct. 12, with evening performances added the last four Sundays of the run.
“This is mind-blowing to me,” she said. “Everyone has been so neighborly to me. It’s really fun and exciting. I’d never done anything like this before. It’s become this thing that just took off.”
Selling Tupperware was not something she wanted to do but she needed a job. “I had just gotten out of prison and my parole officer said I had to get a job if I wanted to get my kids back. She suggested I do Tupperware. I didn’t even know it still existed. When I did my first party, the hostess put out drinks and I thought it was pretty nice that I could drink on the job,” she chuckled.
Describing the 90-minute show, Longate said it’s like being at a Tupperware party. “There are games and prizes, but there’s a lot of heart-warming stories, too. I talk about the lady who started the company to bring women back into the kitchen after Rosie the Rivitter. Through her efforts, a whole group of women were back working and making their own money once again.”
Although the show very light-hearted, she said the show is an “empowerment story but you will have fun and be giggling up a storm.”
Longate said there is plenty of audience participation, including a couch on stage where a few lucky theater-goers can sit during the show. After all, what’s a Tupperware party without women relaxing in the living room while listening to the what all the plastic items can do?
“This is an outrageously funny show,” she said. “Every performance is different because there’s so much interaction with the audience and you never know what will happen.”
Some of those expected incidents include a woman going in to labor, someone fainting, and a fire drill opening night in L.A.
“There’s always something different that happens,” Longate said. “When you get audience members to do the games and raffles or demonstrations you never know will happen. You can get someone who is a little shy or someone who is outrageous, but it’s always a good time.”
Reflecting on the show’s success, the Tupperware saleperson-turned-actress said, “We’re having a good time with this. And it’s not just for women — men love it, too. They may think they won’t like it when they come in, but they end up giggling their butts off. It’s really a lot of fun.”