I called him JuJu (pronounced whowho not JewJew). He called me SuSu. Called Charlie Janasz, ChuChu. Do you see a pattern? Richard Iglewski and I were company members together at the Guthrie Theater under Garland Wright. He was the most deeply intuitive actor I ever worked with. I loved him. He left the theater a few years ago, then really left us just recently.
Through a very odd series of events I found myself working at the Guthrie Theater in 1985 when Liviu Ciulei was the Artistic Director. I was watching a tech run-thru of Steven Kanee's production of Great Expectations. Remember the character in the book who lives with the Aged P and fires a canon every night from his small garden? This actor—this funny, potato-nosed wizard actor playing that part—placed a pound note to his forehead and quietly sang "Happy Birthday to you." I don't remember the plot point (although I think it had something to do with Pip's inheritance), but I fell in love then and there.
And also, I fell a little in envy because Richard Iglewski, aka Julio, could do anything. Those little surprising moments that he concocted to illuminate the story and his characters were his forte but so were grand, enormous gestures. Like as Falstaff, or as the King of France in Henry V (“Go Down on Harfluer!”). Garland Wright understood Julio completely and relied on his honest, heartfelt genius time and time again: John of Gaunt, Richard II ("this little jewel, this England”), Waffles in Uncle Vanya (hand to the window, a belated good bye to Yelena, weeping). I remember him in outrageous cothurni, walking directly downstage in The Screens or flirting as Reverend Chasuble in The Importance of Being Ernest.
He had the best Minnesota accent on the planet and would lay into it. “Cripes" and “don't" were both 3-syllable words. Being Polish, he made stuffed cabbage rolls but also played the sitar, as all good Polish boys do. He took up photography later in life and had a great eye. He attended my husband's mid-life college graduation party, took pictures, and sent us a book of the images. He was a mensch. And now he's slipped away.
He left the theater community a number of years ago and didn't return calls. I'm sad to say I hadn't seen him for years. He was one of those actors that made directors think they had discovered America and the rest of us feel like we should just try to keep up. I wish I had.
-- Sally Wingert
Julio and I shared a dressing room for many productions at the Guthrie: The School for Scandal, As You Like It, The Pirates of Penzance, among others, and the first day of tech always started the same way. Julio would unpack his pictures, cards and mementos and begin decorating his station. He would have a ball of that blue stickum stuff and place around his mirror the memories and reminders of a long and illustrious theater career. Soon his area was covered with inspirations, congratulations, photos and cards, trinkets and toys and talismans. To me it was an actor’s museum of success, a watermark of artistic achievements and a tradition I would adopt and cherish to this day.
On one occasion after he had finished his display, I stole away with the remainder of his blue stickum and sculpted a little figure with it and secretly placed it in his menagerie. I can still hear his booming laughter at the moment he discovered it. Over the next 10 years, the blue stickum character became our pawn of friendship. I would find it in somewhere in my area, and then, after some time, I would hide it in his. The creature of stickum would change each time as well, depending on the whimsy of the bearer. This would continue even if we didn’t share a dressing room during a production; without fail the blue figure would appear.
After the news of Julio’s passing, I’ve tried to recall where our sticky blue friend ended up. It could be that Julio retired it into his permanent collection of memories and reminders, to be placed at his next dressing station. I like to imagine that there are pieces of it today holding up the cards, mementos, and memories of my own menagerie. I am forever grateful to Julio, his respect and love for theater and its traditions will resonate with me always.
-- Jim LIchtsheidl