Blair Underwood makes his Broadway debut this month playing one of the most legendary yet challenging characters in theater history – the brooding, emotionally abusive, working class Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The Tennessee Williams play has been updated with a multi-cultural cast but maintains its original setting of New Orleans.
In a video chat with Gold Derby, Underwood explained, “One of the many things we wanted to do was make this production very specific and unique to New Orleans, Louisiana … more specifically the French Quarter where the play is set.” While on location to shoot the film “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the Seventh Day,” he wanted to “soak up the flavor and the texture of the culture and really the melody of the language” to prepare for this role.
The play opens at the Broadhurst Theatre on April 22 with Nicole Ari Parker (Blanche), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Stella), and Wood Harris (Mitch). The early previews are already generating Tony Awards buzz for the show as Best Play Revival as well as Underwood for Best Actor in a Play. Surprisingly, “A Streetcar Named Desire” has never won a major Tony Award in any of its seven previous Broadway incarnations.
Underwood has previous awards experience. He won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Spoken Word Album (Al Gore‘s “An Inconvenient Truth”). He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award early in his career for Best TV Supporting Actor on “L.A. Law” in 1991. Almost two decades later, he contended again in that same category for “In Treatment” in 2009.