Dallas Observer  September 6, 2012

There are two popular archetypes of the Southern women: polite marriage material and delightfully tacky diva. One of these is far more interesting than the other and I’ll give you a hint: The fun one doesn’t involve going to cotillion (at least not legitimately). Christy McBrayer seems like she may have crashed a cotillion or two in her day, and makes no bones about her seriously Southern upbringing just outside of Tupelo, Mississippi. She sends up her big-haired, menthol-smokin’, PBR-swillin’ friends and family, playing 10 strong-willed ladies who will make you laugh and wince equally. Her Redneck Greek Chorus gives McBrayer’s “Southern Fried Chickie” the soundtrack you’d expect — a little Hank Williams, a little Johnny Cash and a lotta pickin’. Check out this hilarious backwoods, down-home performance.




Austin Chronicle
  February 1, 2012

Larry the Cable Guy has met his match in a busty, blond Tupelo, Mississippi princess. In her entertaining one-woman show Southern Fried Chickie, Christy McBrayer proves that she's become everything her daddy wanted her to be: a strong, beautiful woman who knows as much as any man and can still drink him under the table.  She's even got the unholy white trash - excuse me, debris blanc - trio of Jim Beam, PBR, and a Tab chaser ready to go.

Transforming with ease into 10 different Southern chickies before a delighted audience, McBrayer narrates funny, poignant, and sometimes unsettling conversations with family and friends during a rare visit to her trailer park homeland. Among the host of quirky relations are chain-smokers, convicts, bitches, and alcoholics, women with big hearts and bigger hair who smoke Virginia Slims Menthol Lights and sip Rosé while quoting the Bible.

Though Southern Fried Chickie might ring true for Southerners, Yanks may wrinkle their noses at its playful treatment of domestic abuse and racism. But to lighten things up, a charming "redneck Greek chorus" accompanies McBrayer, strumming everything from Johnny Cash to Alison Krauss to Poison. The only thing missing is "Freebird."   -- Jillian Owens




Cate Blouke
- American Statesman fee-lance art critic

Sometimes if you want a good laugh, all you have to do is head south.  Or, as is the case for Christy McBrayer, bring the South back east.

As part of the Frontera Fest Long Fringe, McBrayer has brought “Southern Fried Chickie,” her one woman, ten character comedy romp, all the way from Los Angeles to give Austin a glimpse of life in her home town: Saltillo, Mississippi, population a few thousand. Saltillo is (apparently) the trailer-park suburb of Tupelo, and the hometown of Elvis’ mother, Gladys Love Smith Presley.

“Southern Fried Chickie” (a purportedly autobiographical show) pulls us along on an adventure into deep-South small town life, replete with muumuus and mashed potatoes, hair curlers and chain smoking, methamphetamines, Jack Daniels, and high school boyfriends with nicknames like Hamburger and Frog. McBrayer takes us on a tour of her family angst, donning the trappings of each persona with enthusiasm and pluck. She does, however, make a short venture up north (sort of) when we meet her Minnesotan and maternal neighbor with a penchant for macrame.

And although McBrayer makes up the bulk of the show, it wouldn’t be half as much fun if it weren’t for her Red Neck Greek Chorus. Austin locals Johnny Molinari and Casey Epps show off their vocal and guitar picking talents, supplying a great pre-show warm up and a running soundtrack for McBrayer’s shenanigans. Ron Ramelli rounds out the ensemble with keyboards and harmonica. Of particular delight on Saturday was Casey Epps’ rendition of his original song, “The Ballad of Dick and Jane:” an entertaining (and not very subtle) adventure in double-entendre and divorce.

The show is undoubtedly entertaining for anyone who grew up in small-town South, caricaturing the characters one inevitably encounters. McBrayer reminds us that stereotypes are alive and well in the Southern states, and it’s a lot more fun to see her reenact them secondhand than encounter them in real life.




Variety

Mississippi-born actress-writer Christy McBrayer certainly knows her roots. With minimal costume changes, she effectively calls forth the colorful characters of her youth growing up in Saltillo, which she refers to as the “trailer park suburb of Tupelo”.  Staged with relaxed efficiency by Rita Sheffield, McBrayer does not dwell on any one characterization for long as she methodically moves from family to friends punctuated by the adroit onstage musical offerings of guitarist-singer Jim Leslie and backup vocalist-fiddler Mike Kelly.  This generally lighthearted memory piece only occasionally dips into the dark side and showcases McBrayer’s captivating ability to lose herself within the personas of some truly memorable down-home folk.

Arriving by way of the audience togged up as a hard-working, up and coming Hollywood glamour queen wannabe, McBrayer suddenly sheds her evening gown and unveils the plain-talking cutoff jeans/tank topped hometown girl who “tied for homecoming queen” back in high school.  Sauntering through a crowded yet serviceable set, McBrayer re-creates a prodigal trip back to this Deep South town of 2000 to rekindle the relationships of her past.  Along the way she encounters the love and pride of those who admire her courage to leave town, as well as the not-so-thinly veiled resentments and jealousies of those who wish her no good will at all.

McBrayer, backed by the duo of Leslie and Kelly, narrates herself into each character as she dons whatever apparel will aid in her transformation.  It is an impressive array.  Her widowed grandmother Mamaw desperately tries to busy herself with family cooking and gossip but is suffering from near-catatonic loneliness since the death of her husband.  Chain-smoking Aunt Ann can’t wait to unload some juicy tidbits about McBrayer’s former boyfriend while cluelessly blowing cigarette smoke into her own baby’s face.  The small-town tribulations of former high school pals Belinda, Carrie and Glenda Rose offer comical and poignant reinforcement to her decision to leave town.

The production is helped immensely by amiable musical contributions...whose offerings include “Amazing Grace”, the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes” and Hank Williams Jr. ditty, “Family Tradition”. -Julio Martinez

 





Times Picayune

"McBrayer is a free spirited blonde in her 30's who's casual and at ease onstage, where she creates 14 down-home characters with a minimum of costumes and props…bounces around singing and is irrepressibly likable like a younger Jean Smart or Kyra Sedgwick"

"McBrayer is a clever writer and beguiling performer who never gets too slick or serious on us.  ‘Southern Fried Chickie’ is a roadhouse performance art and as she dances off the stage, she leaves us with a sense of joy." -David Cuthbert





LA Weekly Recommended Pick of the Week, 2002

Mississippi born writer-performer Christy McBrayer tells us she’s not white trash-she’s debris blanc.  Her one-woman show is a wildly colorful gallery of fictionalized portraits of her childhood family and friends.  It’s not exactly Southern Gothic-Southern Baroque is closer.  Her characters are larger-than-life small-town eccentrics, sharply observed and portrayed with a rich blend of affection, nostalgia and cheerful malice.  After a loving portrait of her snuff-dipping grandmother, McBrayer moves on the detail  her  pugnacious  jail-bird sister; a zinfandel –sipping self-styled aristocrat neighbor,  an alpine-hipped lesbian athletic coach and a tone-deaf singing barmaid. They are all instantly recognizable types for anyone who’s spent time in the rural South, and she plays them with zest.  With the help of director Rita Sheffield, “script muse” Cynthia Ward Walker and a lively two-man country combo ) Jim Leslie and Mike Kelley), McBrayer has concocted a slick, funny, tightly constructed show with just enough sentiment and pathos to give it ballast. –Neal Weaver

LA Weekly Recommended Pick of the Week, 2001

With the Southern Chickie’s hilarious writing, Christy McBrayer’s satisfying one-woman series of sketches is culled from real-life people in her family and small hometown of Saltillo, Mississippi (six miles from Elvis’ birthplace of Tupelo, a recurring theme).  The production, however, is not just a demonstration of impressive accents and colloquialisms.  Totally unselfconscious onstage, McBrayer deftly shows the humor and sensitivity in the way her characters have chosen to live their lives.  It is hard not to identify with the widowed grandmother and family gossip who lives for her children and grandchildren.  There is also the wealthy, aging socialite who has got stories to tell, the high school friend who never married, the high school friend who did and can’t wait to wave her ring, the would-be country singer with abusive boyfriends, and about half a dozen others.  McBrayer is good with detail and doesn’t miss an opportunity to slip in a sly innuendo.  Is her unmarried, female baseball-coaching friend gay or just a big fan of Rosie O’Donnell?  McBrayer’s characters are homespun but also rich enough in gray areas to create a compelling soap opera. - Diedre Johnson





Gambit  "Splendor in the Grits"

Christy McBrayer wrote and performs Southern Fried Chickie. She's a vivacious blonde who has a winning way of connecting with her audience. The show, like Greater Tuna, evokes a whole, oddball community with a miniscule cast. McBrayer does quick costume changes behind a screen and emerges as 14 different folk from the town of Saltillo, Miss. ("a trailer park suburb of Tupelo").

Most of the characters that McBrayer portrays are friends or relatives; that is, they are friends or relatives of a person named "Christy." Christy is an invisible interlocutor whom the characters talk to. For instance, Mamaw is thrilled to greet Christy, who's returned home from her career in Los Angeles. Here, the temptations of biographical interpretation get intense, since McBrayer herself grew up in Mississippi and went to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

There are many more sardonic Deep South portraits in this rogues' gallery. Are we dealing with white trash? McBrayer knew you'd think that. No, she insists, they aren't white trash, they're "debris blanc"! –Dalt Wonk




Click to read an interview with Christy McBrayer in Arts and Understanding Magazine (New York, NY).