Your Manhattan voyeur spent a king’s ransom to check out the sexiest man alive—in my opinion.
Blair Underwood has been performing an edited version of the Marlon Brando role in Tennessee William’s histrionic play A Streetcar Named Desire at the Broadhurst theater, fifteen walkable blocks from my midtown abode.
In all candor, before the curtain went up, I sneaked from my seat on row m to an empty one on row b, so that when Blair Underwood wriggled out of his coral tee-shirt to reveal his muscled upper torso, he performed the strip tease some three feet from my beady-eyed self.
But I had problems.
Blair Underwood isn’t a convincing drunken batterer, and in fact, up close the man looked more frightened than frightening. And I don’t blame him. Performing live theater has to be beyond scary. Thus I got no hint of the subtle emotions that endear him to me on tv. I think the man is miscast in Streetcar. He’s an actor in the tradition of Cary Grant, not Marlon Brando.
I remember fondly how coldly menacing he was as Simon Elder in Dirty Sexy Money. As Julia-Louis Dreyfus’s schoolteacher boyfriend Mr. Harris for two seasons of New Adventures of Old Christine, he was wry, understated and super cool. His reactions to Dreyfus’s masochistic loopiness were kind, largely unspoken and priceless. And as Cynthia Nixon’s doctor boyfriend on Sex in the City his knowing presence conveyed all the sexy nuance I needed. But these roles hardly promise an out-there ruffian drunken Stanley Kowalski.
This almost feminist version of Streetcar required a strong Blanche and thus a weaker, dumber Stanley. I just wish that Blair Underwood had been allowed to be wry, knowing, understated and perhaps coldly menacing. Maybe I’m asking the impossible. Anyway it was glorious (not sexy) to see that coral shirt slide up his golden body.
Whoever dressed him loves him