An updated version of the Tennessee Williams classic, originally penned in 1947, is about to hit Broadway with a diverse cast of characters. The curtain opens on April 22 and BET.com had the pleasure of attending an exclusive meet and greet at the Signature Theatre. The all-star cast is headed up by Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker, under the direction of the legendary Emily Mann.
A Streetcar Named Desire was made famous by the late, great Marlon Brando, who played Stanley. Underwood revealed while Brando’s performance was brilliant, his version of Stanley will be unique and updated. “What I don’t want to do is try to imitate what has already been done. Marlon Brando was a genius, his performance was brilliant! But rather than recreate something that has already happened, I will reach deep down and excavate all the richness of this character.” The former Playgirl cover-boy openly laughs as he hints at the possibility of strutting his stuff on stage in a tight white T-shirt. “There is a very good chance of that!”
Stepping into the shoes of Blanche DuBois, which was made famous by Vivien Leigh, is Nicole Ari Parker of the Showtime series Soul Food and wife of Boris Kodjoe. “I have been waiting 20 years for a role like this and I think it is perfect timing. I don’t think I could have handled a role like this before, considering the life experience that it requires. Every actress has something special inside of them that they are meant to share and reveal. Now, it’s my turn,” says Parker.
Director Emily Mann expressed Tennessee Williams’s dream of a multicultural cast finally coming to fruition. “It is an incredible honor to be here on this historic first day of rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire with an amazing cast of color and to also honor Tennessee’s memory and wishes. I knew him, I loved him and if you look at the history books, he had tried to get a production of color on Broadway since the '50s. I just know he is looking down on us celebrating this historical event!”
New Orleans's native son and legendary music composer Terence Blanchard will provide the score, setting the tone to this steamy story filled with brawn and booze in the French Quarter. The cast is notably rounded out by The Wire's Wood Harris, along with Rent alum Daphne Rubin-Vega. Stephen Byrd and Alia M. Jones of Front Row Productions serve as producers, who helped breathed new life into the 2008 Broadway production of Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. All in attendance seemed hopeful that not only will audience members mimic the iconic scream “Stella” upon leaving the theatre, they will also be sure to yell, “Bravo!”
A Streetcar Named Desire opens April 22 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
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