Complaints abound about transit buses passing riders by without stopping, but while most simply wait a few minutes for the next one to arrive, local actor Morgan Brayton has been waiting twelve years to finally board The Number 14.
“The call I got from Wayne [director Wayne Specht] to join the current cast of The Number 14 is very similar to one that I got from him about 12 years ago,” explains Brayton who didn’t make it on stage in 2000 as the cast member she was set to replace returned to the show.
Fast forward a dozen years and Brayton (in the photo right by David Cooper) finds herself once again tapped for that same role in the show’s 20th anniversary farewell tour. Far from being left behind on the curb this year though, Brayton finds herself onboard as Axis Theatre Company loads up The Number 14 for one final trip in an often hilarious look at the characters that ride the real-life #14 bus from Hastings to UBC.
“It is happening just in the nick of time with it being the final tour,” says Brayton. “I’m thrilled, but I must say it’s been a long time waiting to get on this damn bus.”
Taking over the role played by Darlene Brookes, Brayton is convinced that she got the role not only because of her incredible acting abilities (her words), but also because she and Brookes are the same size.
“The first time I slipped on a pair of her shoes it was like Cinderella, an absolutely perfect fit. None of the costumes had to be altered,” laughs Brayton.
A sometimes very physical show that sees characters literally swinging from the grab bars or tumbling between the seats of the bus set, Brayton says the physicality of the show goes well beyond gymnastics.
“I definitely don’t have the most physical part like some of the other characters, but it still feels like a really physical show in as much as it is non-stop. You’re constantly running the entire show from one character to the next.”
Playing ten characters in what is called a “track”, perhaps not surprisingly due to the physical nature of the show, the actors all learn their roles from a videotape and a very small script.
“The script is about eight pages long that hasn’t been updated since 2002,” Brayton laughs again. “But you really learn the role by watching a DVD.”
Despite learning her role by watching a past performance, Brayton isn’t worried about being compared to any of those predecessors.
“I don’t worry about being compared to Darlene, I’m simply trying to uphold the standard that has been set by her doing it for 85 years,” says Brayton with a smile. “Darlene did come to a rehearsal though which was really wonderful and she was able to provide me with very practical stuff like when to have a drink of water… it was invaluable to have her experience to help me navigate the technicalities of the show.”
With a liberal use of masks from designer Melody Anderson that helps establish the various characters that appear in The Number 14, Brayton is once again finding her footing in an art form that she hasn’t used for a number of years.
“I haven’t done mask work for a very long time, but I’m getting used to it again and having a lot of fun with them. The masks do so much of the work for you and when you’re working with someone wearing a mask your characterization comes almost immediately,” says Brayton.
On the road with the show now through the end of 2012, Brayton is looking forward to her hometown run that begins October 23 at Granville Island’s Waterfront Theatre.
“This has been such an amazing opportunity that I could never have turned down despite the challenges of touring,” concludes Brayton. “I have a new family that I haven’t been away from for more than three days up to this point so that is tough, but I think it will ultimately be good for all of us. It is also great to be part of such an amazing ensemble as well, something I haven’t done a lot of in recent years.”
The Number 14
25 October – 18 November 2012
The wacky, zany, side-splitting world-renowned show The Number 14 is making its final stop. This is your last chance to catch the bus as The Number 14 kicks off its farewell tour of this ever popular crowd pleaser. Visit http://www.axistheatre.com for more information.