Dixie Longate seals the show in ‘Dixie’s Tupperware Party’ at Kennedy Center

As Washington counts down to Pride Month, this comedic celebration may be just the appetizer one needs to prepare for the coming feast.

“Just because you write the number down doesn’t mean you have to buy it.” Such is the opening advisory from America’s naughtiest Tupperware Lady and the eponymous host of Dixie’s Tupperware Party (running at Kennedy Center through June 2), who rattles off trademarked names and product numbers with the speed of a veteran auctioneer. Written and performed by Kris Andersson (Dixie Longate when in drag), Dixie’s Tupperware Party is more a celebration of “Good Old American Plastic” and the generations of enterprising women responsible for its ubiquity, than an in-home trade show (though products are available for purchase in the lobby).

Visiting Washington from her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, Dixie Longate has an answer for all your airtight needs. Hauling 18 cupcakes, a layered sheet cake, or three dozen Jell-O shots across town? Try the #280 Rectangular Cake Taker. Finding yourself in need of a dishwasher-safe contraption to perfectly marinate your meat? Check out the #748 Season-Serve Container. Hoping to develop your baby’s motor skills? Consider the #1399 Shape-O Toy for your rugrat.

Dixie Longate in ‘Dixie’s Tupperware Party.’ Photo courtesy of The Overture Center.

With great flair, Longate elevates the age-old debate of drag as homage or mockery to a higher level, adding a uniquely economic consideration into the mix. Riffing on the stereotypes of the Tupperware Lady (or Avon, Mary Kay, etc.), she is dressed to the nines with perfectly curled hair and a crisp, colorful apron. Her appearance gives every indication that she is ready to make a sale, even if her low-brow language betrays such professionalism. She is a friend you could trust with your deepest secrets, though she’ll gladly spill everyone else’s after a glass of wine.

In recent years, multi-level marketing companies (which Tupperware could historically be considered) have come under increasing scrutiny for the financial losses incurred by those at the “bottom” of the sales lines. Firmly skirting such touchy territory, Longate decidedly keeps things light, bright, and watertight. She perhaps inadvertently reveals a hint of the unconventional and unpredictable dangers of engaging in such businesses (for instance, she loses the honor of top salesperson [and the promised diamond reward] to a woman who conducts business entirely online), but only briefly. Instead, she takes a rosier view, offering a sweet, if sentimental, case for how Tupperware has contributed to financial independence for countless women.

“These bowls hold ambitions,” says Longate, “some woman’s financial future.” She regularly references Brownie Wise, the woman who innovated the product party model and rose to become an executive in the company (not to mention the first woman to be featured on the cover of BusinessWeek). All cheekiness falls to the side in these moments, and Longate’s admiration for Wise as a business pioneer is genuine and moving. “Seventy-six years later and we’re all still at her party,” she says.

It’s those heartfelt moments that make Dixie’s Tupperware Party one worth an affirmative RSVP. But clocking in at 100 minutes with scant plot, the play comes close to the brink of “too long.” Two false endings (one a Q&A and the other a soliloquy involving a story of domestic abuse) may leave audiences wondering when the party will wrap, but, like any good host, Longate knows how to keep her guests engaged. Her strong comedic chops are on their biggest, boldest display during a period of audience interaction, soliciting “Tupper-monials” and questions about her wares from partygoers, and enlisting several audience members to the stage for product demonstrations and a game.

Even with only a display counter, two couches, and a coffee table, the Kennedy Center Family Theater may as well be the smoke-stained living room from someone’s childhood (with direction from Patrick Richwood and lighting design by Richard Winkler). Employing a few video elements, Longate makes great use of the relatively skeleton space, maintaining focus at all times and leaving the audience wondering what’s in store (and what on earth she’s going to do with the next product).

As Washington counts down to Pride Month, Dixie’s Tupperware Party may just be the appetizer one needs to prepare for the coming feast. By the way, the #260 Drip-Less Straw Sealed Lidded Tumbler is the perfect pick for your parade-day potable.

Running time: 100 minutes without an intermission.

Dixie’s Tupperware Party plays through June 2, 2024, in the Family Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC. Purchase tickets ($35–$69) online, at the box office, or by calling (202) 467-4600 or toll-free at (800) 444-1324.

The program for Dixie’s Tupperware Party is online here.

COVID Safety: Masks are optional in all Kennedy Center spaces for visitors and staff. Read more about the Kennedy Center’s mask policy here.



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