Tupperware parties were never like this.
Dixie Longate is in town and ready to party as the funniest Tupperware lady of all time.
Longate is quite the character and a huge part of the success of the show “Dixie’s Tupperware Party,” now playing at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Longate is a fast-talking saleslady who — according to the backstory — packed up her Tupperware catalogs, left her children in an Alabama trailer park and now travels throughout the country making sale after sale.
The off-Broadway show received a 2008 Drama Desk Award nomination for outstanding solo performance. Since then, it has been performed throughout the United States as well as in London and Melbourne, Australia.
The show was written by Kris Andersson, the actor who portrays Dixie.
Andersson enjoys the character so much that when he does interviews, he does them as Dixie, complete with a Southern accent as thick as molasses.
The show features a real Tupperware party filled with funny stories, giveaways and audience participation.
“Having to interact with people who come out to the show is what makes it fun and it also makes every show different,” Andersson said. “I just want to put big smiles on everyone’s faces. I’ve done 900 shows now and I never get tired of it.
“I just love my parties,” he said. “Tupperware is such great stuff and you know women love their Tupperware, but it’s about more than that.”
The famous household products were developed in 1948 by Earl Silas Tupper. His company pioneered the idea of direct marketing, which in this case was parties where items were sold in people’s homes.
With World War II behind them, many Americans came to view these parties as a way for women — who were moved out of their wartime jobs when the men came home — to remain in the workforce and continue earning money.
“I liked the message of community and that there was something available to women beyond being housewives,” Andersson said. “That’s one of the themes of the show: You’re bigger than who you think you are.”
The message resonated with Amy Levinson, artistic associate and literary director at the Geffen Playhouse.
“We are all about artistic entertainment and we only have eight to 10 shows a year,” Levinson said. “We get 500 submissions and we have to be very particular about the shows we select.
“I knew ‘Dixie’ would be funny and clever, and it is, but it also has a genuine heart. I found myself — along with others in the audience — cheering for this character.
“I’m a tough audience, believe me, but I was moved by this show and I think other people will be, too.”
But first, she added, there’s laughter.
“You’re going to laugh so hard you’ll miss parts of what’s going on and the poignancy of Dixie,” Levinson said. “The show sort of sneaks up on you.”
Levinson said the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse usually aims to create and foster new work.
“ ‘Dixie’ isn’t a new work, but it is lighter fare, perfect for the summer, that will simply make people happy,” she said. “Everyone needs a little bit of Dixie in their day.”
The limited run at the Geffen Playhouse is part of the show’s sixth national tour.
“I came in a little early to see things,” Andersson said. “I haven’t been to Los Angeles in a long time and things have changed. The traffic is murder, but I’m so happy to be here I could eat a bug.”
DIXIE’S TUPPERWARE PARTY
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 3.
Where: Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10866 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles.
Information: 310-208-8383, www.geffenplayhouse.com.