MFA Candidates Julie Czarnecki and Robert Jason Jackson take on iconic roles
By Deneia Washington
With The Matchmaker well underway here in Temple Theaters, cast and crew have been working tirelessly to give audience members a memorable production. With help from the director Douglas C. Wager and the production team, graduate students Julie Czarnecki (Dolly Levi) and Robert Jason Jackson (Horace Vandergelder) have worked over the past few months to represent the complexities of their respective characters while also adding in their own voice.
“I’ve had a long history as an actor of performance, so undoubtedly, my own history as a performer is a factor involved in how I’ve chosen to portray the character,” says Jackson a professional actor who has performed in theater, television and film.
“You find how the character is close to you, and ways in which the character is not like you at all, and you use your own character personality as much as you can without distorting or changing what it is the playwright intended for the character,” he adds.
For Czarnecki, a Philadelphia based actress who has been in the business for over a decade, preparing for the role of Dolly has been a lot of fun has been “quite the ride.”
“Its been a lot of fun layering the character of Dolly Levi, adding different parts to the characterization of her,” Czarnecki says. “With each rehearsal as the weeks went on, I found more and more of her through my own stamina as an actress, through connecting to the others on stage.”
In part, that connection and energy through other actors on stage, specifically Jackson, has allowed Czarnecki to really center Dolly Levi’s voice, as well as other productions she’s been apart of.
“Robert and I are finding something different each single performance,” she says. “We’re surprising ourselves and each other. It’s been great,” Czarnecki adds.
As student and teacher within the department, Jackson finds his most challenging obstacle to be the balance acting he has to endure for countless weeks. “Just having the stamina, the strength, the energy to do everything that you’re responsible for doing. For the work as a student, as well as your work as the performer,” says Jackson.
“So [that is] a challenge – to do everything and to do it all well,” he adds.
Czarnecki was faced with the challenge of memorizing the lines of a very talkative Dolly. Resisting the urge to paraphrase, Czarnecki was committed to learning the dialogue “word perfectly,” thereby allowing the playwright to help in her process.
“I was pretty dogged about learning the lines as they were written,” she says, “because when you do that, especially with a good play like this from Thornton Wilder – when you are really precise with learning the words exactly the way he wrote them – it helps you find the rhythm of the character, and when you find the rhythm of the character, you then find the character.”
For those who have yet to see The Matchmaker, you can expect to a recreation of the late 1800s to early 1900s of New York City, with a diverse cast.
“It’s very much old fashioned time of the century in New York City,” Jackson says. “It’s an old-fashioned comedy with a fresh, new outlook.”
“They’re gonna have a good time,” says Czarnecki. “The production values are very high and the designs are exquisite.”
The Matchmaker runs through Saturday, April 4 in the Tomlinson Theater. Tickets are $25 GA Adults, $20 Seniors/Students/Temple Employees, and $10 Temple Students. Purchase tickets online.