'Gossip Girl' 's Zuzanna Szadkowski Takes on Molière's 'Dom Juan' in Bard SummerScape: 'A Big Adventure Every Night'

The actress, famous for playing Blair Waldorf’s maid, Dorota, in The CW’s Gossip Girl, is once again playing a scheming sidekick — this time on the stage

Gossip Girl actress Zuzanna Szadkowski's current role in a new stage play
Photo: Maria Baranova

If anyone is familiar with playing a powerful woman's scheming sidekick, it's Zuzanna Szadkowski.

The television and stage actress, who is best known for portraying Blair Waldorf's maid, Dorota Kishlovsky, in The CW's Gossip Girl, is taking on the very different — and yet somewhat familiar — role of Sganarelle in Bard SummerScape's gender-swapped stage production of Molière's Dom Juan.

In the original 1665 five-act comedy, the titular character, Dom Juan, and his servant, Sganarelle, are both men. But in the SummerScape production, they are women, played by Amelia Workman and Szadkowski, respectively.

Like Dorota, Sganarelle's main purpose is to serve the unstoppable, outspoken main character. "In a way, it's a role not not entirely dissimilar from Dorota," Szadkowski, 43, tells PEOPLE. "So it's kind of fun. It has a very different flavor, certainly in different conventions, but it's a little bit of a similar position."

But the two characters are quite different — Sganarelle has her own motives and her own agenda, Szadkowski says. "Where Dorota has only the best interest of Blair at heart, Sganarelle is more like a contemporary working person where she has to stay afloat, and she has to do her things," Szadkowski explains. "And sometimes, it puts her in conflict with her own boss. So in that way, it's a little more complicated."

Gossip Girl actress Zuzanna Szadkowski's current role in a new stage play
Maria Baranova

One aspect of this 21st century adaptation that stands out to Szadkowski as meaningful and resonant with today's world is the gender-swapped characters. In the 17th century play, Dom Juan is a non-conformist who casts off many women after seducing them and harbors a disregard for religion and social norms. But when Dom Juan is a woman, the plot takes on a whole new meaning.

"This play is a lot about morality and the freedom to explore sexuality and also the sort of power dynamic of being able to make your own choices," Szadkowski says. "So to see a woman play that out — it changes the play almost entirely. So I think that's actually what makes the play really resonate and relevant in today's world."

"Dom Juan is unstoppable — she can and does date and marry every single person she meets that she's interested in," Szadkowski continues. "So it's interesting to see somebody really live in their own skin in that way. I think in a version of the play where a man is Dom Juan, it has a different vibe, certainly."

Szadkowski's roots are in theater, but she is also a big fan of television and said she likes acting for both the stage and the screen in different ways. "On stage, it feels like you have this big adventure every night, whereas on television, you take your time in a different way," she says. "When I'm doing theater and TV at the same time, I feel like I have all the good stuff that I could dream of."

Gossip Girl actress Zuzanna Szadkowski's current role in a new stage play
Maria Baranova

In terms of the Gossip Girl universe, Szadkowski has only good things to say and fun memories to share — and her break from playing Dorota didn't last long. In the 2021 HBO Max reboot of the beloved series, Szadkowski had a cameo as her original character.

"Coming back into that world felt really thrilling, to see the new generation and to kind of step into their iteration on the show," Szadkowski says. "I really liked the new version. And it's obviously very different from the original, but it has that same essential soul of Gossip Girl. I'm glad it lives on."

Szadkowski says she still keeps in touch with her former costars and is always happy to meet fans. "I run into new fans all the time, which is great," she says. "Especially if a Gossip Girl fan is up here in the Hudson Valley, and they come to see our play, it's these wonderful two worlds colliding. That, to me, is a real thrill — to be able to bring some of my television world into the theater."

This stage production of Dom Juan, conceived and directed by Ashley Tata, is being performed at The Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College in Hudson Valley, N.Y., through July 17.

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