From Knife to Stage; CNM culinary arts student takes on a new role

By Guadalupe Santos-Sanchez, Staff Reporter

Melanie Gruber is a Culinary Arts major at CNM who regularly performs in the Albuquerque production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A few years ago she went to her first Rocky Horror Show and won a costume contest dressed as Janet, Gruber said, then in November 2013 she found out through Facebook that they were holding auditions, so she auditioned and made it.

She had no acting experience before she auditioned for the show, she said.

“The audition was very nerve-wracking we had a scene that we had to read, and then we had to do the same scene while they were yelling the call backs at us, and we had to do a Q&A,” she said.

The cast does not discriminate if you do not have any skill, if you cannot sing they are not going to turn you away because it is a fun show, she said.

If you do not have any acting experience they will try to train you, if not you can be part of the crew or a Tranny, which is mostly singing and dancing, she said.

“They just work with everybody they don’t like to turn people down unless they have a bad personality, if you’re going to cause problems then they won’t let you on the cast,” Gruber said.

She initially auditioned for Janet Weiss, but everyone who makes it automatically becomes a Transylvanian, or a Tranny, before becoming main cast, she said.

“A Tranny is a Transylvanian, they’re like the party guest/ chorus, so if you’ve ever seen the film they’re the people in the tail coats and fun hats that were weird looking,” Gruber said.

She has been in every perfor­mance since she started and she has played a Tranny, Janet, and Rocky Horror, she said.

When she is not playing Janet she plays a Tranny, she said.

“I like playing Janet the most, because I like to be on the stage, I like to be the person that everybody likes to look at,” Gruber said.

Having to dance around in a corset, under­wear, fishnet, and high heels is very nerve-rack­ing, however, because she is shy, she said.

“The first time it was really bad because my mom’s boyfriend was in the audience and I was like oh gosh… before the show I did a lot of hyperventilating ‘cause I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to feel about it and when I got out there I just blocked everything out, I was like, I’m doing this by myself nobody else is here, nobody’s watching,” Gruber said.

Her first performance as Rocky was for their Gender Bender show, Gruber said.

“He makes weird noises, so it’s really hard to get comfortable with him, because you don’t say anything really, you just make grunting noises,” she said, “it was difficult at first because you have to grunt the right way, or else you just sound awful.”

“When I was doing the gender bender show and I was playing Rocky for one of the scenes Rocky has to be touching Janet seductively, and the guy who was playing Janet decided to motor­boat me into his fake boobs and put me under his slip,” she said.

Usually it is just touching or rubbing the chest area but he took it to a whole new level, she said.

To prepare for the show she watches the movie a lot and practices to ensure that she does not mess up, she said.

Before the show, she does vocal exercises because she has to do a lot of singing, she said.

For the show, the movie is projected onto a screen and the cast are on stage performing the exact same thing that the characters are doing in the film, at the same time, she said.

“We kind of block it out, we block out the movie and we block out the call backs- because the audi­ence is scream­ing obscenities as part of the show,” she said.

“I put a lot of acting into it, actually for a show I become that character not just somebody in a costume saying lines, I pretend that I actually am that character,” Gruber said.

Her performance is a lot better than when she started, she said, she knows her lines and dance moves more and she does not get as ner­vous as she used to.

This is just a side thing and she never thought she would do theatre until she saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show, she said.

She first watched the movie when she was 6 years old, her whole family used to sit and watch the movie together all the time, she said.

“I just fell in love with the movie, and I was like I have to do this I can’t not act in this movie, I have to do it… you have to be a pretty big fan to run around in your underwear,” she said.

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