Ever since she can remember, Morgan Brayton wanted to be a performer. While all her female classmates in elementary school were listing nurse, librarian, or teacher as what they wanted to be when they grew up, little Morgan wrote “star” .
As an actor in film and television for the past 18 years (Neon Rider, The Division, and The L Word, among many others), Brayton has made good on the performance aspect of her dream, if not to the degree she'd always envisioned. But watching her in Girls Like Me, you can't help but think that her goals weren't just wishful thinking. (Video of various sketches is available at her Web site, www.morganbrayton.com/, and on iTunes.) TV comedy institution Saturday Night Live has been missing a female spark plug since Cheri Oteri left the cast in 2000. You see Brayton's richly nuanced and buoyant comedic characters and you think “Why not her?”
Her one-woman show is making a return to the stage after opening in Toronto's We're Funny That Way festival in 2005. Last year, she remounted it at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, where it garnered rave reviews. (The Straight's Kathleen Oliver wrote, “Brayton's characterizations are detailed, her timing is impeccable, and her range is astonishing.” ) It's back for a six-show run, Thursdays through Saturdays from tonight (June 29) until July 8, as part of the Summer at the Waterfront series at the Waterfront Theatre.
Girls Like Me is a medley of Brayton's favourite female roles from her six years with the 30 Helens sketch troupe, plus a couple of new ones she's written specifically for this installment.
“There's no narrative to the show. It's not a character that takes you through a story line,” she explains. “It's a collection of characters thrown together, but as the title suggests, these are characters that are either some aspect of myself or based on people that I have encountered. It's sort of””” She almost spits out the beer she's been sipping at a West End café. “Oh, my God, I just about said, 'a rainbow of women'!
“It's not a show specifically for a queer audience, by any means,” she continues. “I'm queer, so that's going to come into my work most likely. It's also not chick theatre, if such a thing exists. This isn't a show for women; it's a show featuring a woman. It's a comedy show, it's a funny show, and it's enjoyable no matter your gender or your sexuality. It's also not for a certain age demographic either.”
Brayton describes her alter egos as being at a precipice in their lives, whether it's middle-aged Button Bradley, who's signed up for a women's-studies class to keep busy when her ceramics course is cancelled, or the neophyte ecdysiast Cherry Lipsmacker, who wants to succeed so badly but dances just as badly.
Being both the writer and the performer, Brayton naturally infuses much of herself into her portrayals. “I think some of the content mirrors where I'm at as a performer and, dare I say it, maybe even as a person,” she admits. “I feel like I'm personally and careerwise at that precipice. I'm about to step somewhere, but I have no clue where that is. Step into the darkness and either plummet or go somewhere good.”
That's not all. As she ever-so-cleverly points out about all 10 characters, “They all look remarkably like me.”