Oranjezicht resident Gabriel Meltz is currently on stage at the Fugard, playing Jordan Berman in the Broadway musical, Significant Other.
Gabriel, who said acting has always been his first love, moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue his dream of becoming an actor and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) in 2015. During his college years, he played numerous roles, among them Mitch, in A Street Car Named Desire.
Influenced at a very young age by mostly his mother and grandmother whom he describes as extremely eccentric people, Gabriel said he always knew that he’d end up in the acting industry.
He said they used to take him and his brother to ballets, operas and theatre performances when they were young and by the time he could walk and talk, he was already doing his own musicals to the Ipi Ntombi soundtrack, forcing his brother to be stage manager, lighting and sound designer.
“It was quite a performance,” he recalls.
Gabriel said he was enjoying playing the role of Jordan in the show because he was surrounded by such incredible, inspiring people who were all passionate about telling the story together.
He said he and Jordan had a lot in common which made it easier for him to master the role.
“Fortunately, we’re both gay, Jewish, single and very close in age,” he said.
“His story is also a very truthful one that people don’t always want to talk about and we find ourselves laughing at him, because of how relatable it is.”
But the show also forced him to face some of his own emotional demons in order to tell the story in all its honesty.
Gabriel said the only thing challenging about the role was the fact that the play was written in colloquial language, with people talking over each other, long monologues and very little punctuation.
He said in order to keep the text truthful to the style, they had to get very technical and he had to approach the text as he would a Shakespearean text.
On tough lessons that he’s had to learn in the industry, Gabriel said the most important one was to learn to be patient – not only with auditioning and waiting to hear if you got a role or even a callback, but even when you get the job.
Particularly in the theatre, he said, most roles take a lot of time to develop – and he’s a perfectionist, wanting his first read through to be perfect, which is not always possible.
Also challenging, he said, is that actors can often go for long periods without audition opportunities or work.
After the show is over in July, Gabriel plans to travel and unwind.
“I am definitely going to need a little holiday once this show is over,” he said.
“Emotionally and physically it really takes it out of me, so I will probably spend a bit of time doing some writing and travelling and then hopefully come back re-inspired with a new exciting journey to pursue.”