A gusty nor'easter may have carried Mary Poppins up and away from Shea's earlier this week, but it didn't take more than four days for another domestic goddess to fill her shoes.
Enter Dixie Longate, that spunky Southern homemaker who talks like Kathy Griffin, sounds like Paula Deen, dresses like Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island," and packs a lunch that would make June Cleaver blush. And when her buttons are pushed, she's the fiercest Dixie since Carter.
Longate, the female impersonation of actor/writer Kris Andersson, stars in "Dixie's Tupperware Party," an interactive comedy act/Tupperware sale. It is dirty, brash and just the perfect slice of life that Middle America can call its own. The opening night audience was primed and ready to laugh at its own domestic absurdities, revel in the men-are-dumb humor, and share their tips for more-efficient home kitchens.
But this isn't just a show for desperate housewives. It's for anyone who's ever cut an onion in half and needed somewhere to store the remaining layers. To a sea of knowing nods, Longate points out one of her favorite catalog products: Item No. 343, the Onion Keeper. The snap-shut lid keeps the rancid odor away from its refrigerator friends, and simultaneously creates a happy home life.
So does No. 498, the Flat-Out! collapsible storage container, and No. 787, the Cake Taker. These pieces of molded plastic are more than a place to store your cookie crumbs. They offer cleaner, more organized lives. Peace of mind and space.
Dixie's animated demonstrations come with a backstory. She's had a rough life, it would seem. Her three children -- Wynona, Dwayne and Absorbine Jr. -- were not her first (or second, or third) choices for life paths, nor was her first husband, who we find out in a prolonged soliloquy that nears boredom, was a lousy guy.
But hand it to the real-life Brownie Wise of the Tupperware company, whose own rise from 1950s housewife obscurity to the businesswoman's pioneer who invented the Tupperware party, for brightening Dixie's day.
And so, with the prospect of entrepreneurship and a well-preserved vodka-spiced fruit salad, Dixie got down to work and started her own party company. Entertaining her fellow domestic divas is where Dixie is most in her element. Her comedy is fast and clever, leaving a great deal of the best material for audience participation and "you go girl" shout-outs. This is a sisterhood.
When our host nears a finale that's laden with poignancy, we're already sold on her character's journey from trailer-park mama to strong businesswoman. We don't really need to hear her monologue, which sounds more Lifetime movie than savvy product pitch.
Still, you can't help but to love the girl. Dixie is strong, determined, in love with the otherwise boring plastic bins that saved her life, and intent on spreading that love of W-O-M-A-N with every housewife in Western New York.
Try fitting that in a square box.
"Dixie's Tupperware Party"
3 1/2 stars (out of 4)
Through Nov. 14 in Shea's Smith Theatre, 658 Main St. Tickets are $40 to $45. Call 847-1410 or visit www.sheas.org.