THE BASICS: Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull and 16 Other Things I Learned While I was Drinking Last Thursday is a one-man comedy written and acted by Kris Andersson starring as the character Dixie Longate presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino which opened Tuesday, March 1st and runs through Sunday, March 6. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30, Friday at 8, Saturday at 4 & 8, Sunday (last day) at 2 & 6. It’s at the smaller Shea’s Smith Theatre (right next door to Shea’s Performing Arts Center) 658 Main Street (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org Runtime 90+ minutes without intermission. Full service bar in the lobby.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Set in a roadhouse/bar in Mobile Alabama as a hurricane rages outside, Dixie cleans up the place the morning after her best friend’s bachelorette party while dispensing her hard earned wisdom (for example the title of the play) including gems from her “mama,” bless her heart, such as “even though vodka looks a whole lot like water, the end results are a hell of a lot different.”
THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: I never saw DIXIE LONGATE’S TUPPERWARE PARTY which I now regret because Dixie is a hoot. And, man, can she talk. Almost non-stop (except for some audience participation). (SPOILER ALERT: If you sit in the front row, you will become part of the fun.) While occasionally opening night performances at some theaters can be uneven, this is not Kris Andersson’s first rodeo, and he delivers. Just relax and go along for the ride, tube top or not.
The show is irreverent and not politically correct with many sex references, some more implied than spoken, along with the occasional f-bomb. There were many married couples in the audience and they “got it” and they loved it.
When I report that the play is 90+ minutes, it’s not that I can’t tell time. It’s that things just sort of ease in to the show. While the house lights are still up the country music is playing on the jukebox and Dixie starts to clean up, picking up empty beer bottles. So it’s hard to say when the play actually begins, which is part of the “relax, we’re all in this together” message of the evening.
Dixie is very energetic and talks rapidly, especially for a Southern gal, but the evening has a nice flow to it. It ramps up and peaks with some jokes, then calms down when Dixie speaks from the heart, then ramps up again with jokes about raising children (she has three) which got the biggest laughs from the opening night audience, then more of Dixie’s philosophy, then a big ramp up with an audience participation game show, then a little more humor to end the show, which ended in a very satisfying manner.
The set design by Lisa Orzolek is first rate. No detail of the bar is overlooked. Part of the fun is just looking at all the details, the posters on the wall, the signs, the party lights draped over the jukebox. You can almost smell the stale beer on the floor, it’s that realistic.
Charles R. MacLeod is credited for the lighting design and, let’s face it, usually lighting is not something that you notice. But the lighting here was uncanny in that, obviously the stage is brighter than the house, and while you could see everything, it gave you the impression of a dimly lit bar, without being dimly lit.
Public Service Announcement: After the play, you will want to eat a Moon Pie. Why? Because, according to Dixie, eating a Moon Pie will solve most of life’s problems. And, according to the Moon Pies website, they can be found at Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, BJs, and Dollar General, to name some stores that we have in Buffalo. Now that you know that they are available, if you encounter a person in your life who is behaving badly, you can confidently tell them: “Shut up. Eat a Moon Pie. And get on with your damn life.”
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!