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Come For The Cocktails: Stay to help keep arts venues alive and well

Stay to help keep arts venues alive and well by Jocelyn Murphy | February 21, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Reminded of the days of going out to the theater with friends, Kris Andersson as Dixie Longate suggests having a Zoom hangout with friends before her new show “Dixie’s Happy Hour,” purchasing tickets to the same performance, and then catching up with friends after to see how well they each did in crafting their own cocktails. (Courtesy Photo/Kris Andersson)

Dixie Longate will tell you freely she wouldn't have made it through 2020 without alcohol.

"I was stuck at home with the kids, which is so gross! But you know, they make you," she gabs in her signature impenetrable Alabama accent and rapid-fire cadence. "And well now, especially, they're like, 'You've got to educate them.' I'm like 'How do I...(indistinct sound of annoyance).' So I'm trying to learn them like how to pour glasses of wine that are the proper pour for me, because I'm like, 'That's a full glass. That's math!' You know, stuff like that."

She also spent time doing lots of Facebook Live and Instagram videos, along with a weekly happy hour online, to keep her audiences smiling and laughing. When the thought struck her that maybe the happy hours could be a way to support performing arts venues across the country, she started fleshing it out and landed with a full show, "Dixie's Happy Hour."

"Dixie's Happy Hour" is the third major show from actor, writer and comedian Kris Andersson, the performer behind Dixie's drag persona. Walton Arts Center patrons might remember seeing Andersson's first hit show, "Dixie's Tupperware Party," almost exactly two years ago when the Queen of Tupperware brought the long-running Off-Broadway smash to Fayetteville. No bowls or cupcake carriers will make an appearance in this show, though. The Tupperware party is like "Dixie at work" and the Happy Hour is like "Dixie at home," Longate explains.

"This is about the four basic food groups: rum, gin, vodka and tequila," Longate asserts. "I make cocktails through the program, but every time I'm making a cocktail, it reminds me of a story. So I tell all these stories about general things about my growing up and my life and things that sort of made me the person I am today. And it's basically the show is about finding the happy hours that you might be missing, that are right in front of you."

The show is a streamed performance, not on demand, because Longate says she wanted to replicate -- as closely as possible -- the idea of going out to the "the-a-ter," for a show at a set time. All of Longate's new friends can find recipes on her website and social media platforms ahead of time to make the cocktails alongside her, or before the show for a happy hour of their own, she suggests.

"Because it would be so sad if you came and sat there and just watched me drink. I mean, people do it, but this way you can drink along with me, which just makes everything better in your day," she insists.

Being off the road for the first time in 12 years, while she was at home playing "Go To Your Room" with her kids, Longate found herself wondering how she could do her part to give back to the venues that had opened their doors to her for so many years. In developing Happy Hour into a full 95-minute production, Longate partnered with performing arts centers to offer the digital show as a fundraiser.

Recognizing the difficulties the arts world and performance venues have endured in the last year, Longate ensured 80% of the ticket sales will go to the venues that host the show in the hopes of having arts centers and theaters to come back to when this is all over, she says.

"The thing that covid has shown me and being stuck off the road is how resilient we are as human beings -- that we're able to take something so major, and everybody's lives in a tailspin, and we've still been able to figure out how to cope and manage," Longate reflects. "I think people forget how amazing and adaptable they are. So that's sort of been my thing to be like, 'All right, well, everything's changed, so what fun thing can we do today?' And of course, I roll over and there's like a bottle of vodka on the side table of the bed, because, you know, I'm smart and everything. And then I make a little cocktail in the morning, and it just makes the day refreshed and ready."

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FAQ

‘Dixie’s Happy Hour’

WHEN — Feb. 25-28 and March 4-7; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 3 p.m. on Sunday

WHERE — Streaming online; patrons will receive email with show link

COST — $35 per household; tickets must be purchased two hours prior to show time

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org, dixieshappyhour.com

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