Bloomfield actor brings Cassio to life in ‘Othello’

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — There is a new Shakespearian actor in town by the name of Matthew Iannone. He moved here from Brooklyn this past August and chose the township because of the Midtown Direct. From Feb. 1 to 25, he will perform in “Othello,” as Cassio, with the New Place Players. The limited engagement will be at Casa Clara, 218 E. 25th St. in New York City. 

As a graduate of Pace University with a Master of Fine Arts in acting, Iannone said the New Place Players is a combined effort between the university and the Actors Studio Drama School. Its purpose is to provide Pace acting students and master’s degree recipients with acting experience. Iannone, who lives on Monroe Place, is currently a barista in Brooklyn.

“I make fancy coffee for a living,” he said.

Iannone said speaking in verse, as one must do in most Shakespeare dialogue, is a challenge, but not all characters in the same play will speak in the same verse because verse determines social status.

“In reality, you lean in to the beat of the verse to memorize the lines,” he said. “There’s something in the beat you can attach to. It’s incredible.”

Iannone said an actor does not “push against” the beat created by the words. If they do, memorizing the line would be more difficult. The beat carries the line. He also said the venue, Casa Clara, is special.

“It will transport you to a palace in the middle of midtown NYC,” he said. “It needs to be seen to be believed. I was told it is a former foundry.”

Iannone’s character, Cassio, is a Florentine who is chosen for a military promotion instead of Iago, who betrays the titular Othello.

“Cassio is a thinking man who has not been tested in battle,” Iannone said. “I focus on how he’s engaged in society and impeccably polite. He was chosen over Iago, by Othello, to be a battle commander as they go to war. It’s a political promotion.”

Iannone enjoys bringing Cassio to life, finding the character fascinating, as Cassio, according to Iannone, is the play’s only character who is not conflicted. He always knows what he wants.

“I love using my voice,” Iannone said. “I would like to be a voice-over artist, so Shakespeare is a good training ground.”

As a youngster, Iannone said, he loved cartoons and video games were a big part of his life, but he realized early on that creating video games, or coding, was not his interest. It was manipulating his voice to mimic the sounds.

“The beauty of doing voice-overs is that you can have a successful career and no one knows you’re Mel Blanc,” he said, referencing a famous voice-over artist. “I like the anonymity. I’d love to be the person no one has ever seen but has heard a dozen times.”