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Why ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ a Must-See for Blacks

A Street Car Named Desire was a hit.

Tennessee Williams’ Broadway hit, A Streetcar Named Desire opened at The Broadhurst Theater in New York last weekend, and is retold with a predominantly Black cast led by Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood.

Streetcar follows the emotional tug-of-war between an aging Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, (portrayed by Parker), who moves in with her sister, Stella, and her brutish brother-in-law, Stanley (portrayed by Underwood).

Underwood did his thing by being the wingman of the queen, Nicole Ari Parker, onstage. Parker, aka Boris Kodjoe’s real-life queen, conquered that stage.

This Streetcar Named Desire allows the black community to face the shame that skin color plays in the mind of our heritage.  It reveals domestic abuse in the name of love, and highlights the trail where love ends and lies begin.

Nicole Ari Parker looks very Southern belle-ish during her beautiful wardrobe changes. She dominates our imagination by giving us time to pause and enjoy the imperfections of her character as she lies and seduces us.

Parker embraces the painful past that has followed her into hiding along the streetcar named desire.

Physically acting onstage, Parker lifted the weights of shame and humiliation that are often more than the human spirit can bear.

Blair Underwood mastered the full presence being a black man of a dark skin and of a dark birthplace, that of a Hurricane Katrina city. His voice is strong but allows Parker’s performance to project the tears of rejection and denial that women will love.

Underwood gives an uncommon performance of the black male ideals of conflicted emotion with affection, but allowing the disrespect of male protocol of domination.

It is great to see the retelling of A Street Car Named Desire in this black American voice. Watching Angela Bassett perform in The Mountaintop raised the bar for my assessment for all black actresses on Broadway. And Broadway star Phylicia Rashad won the coveted Tony Award in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, and Nicole Parker must have been studying her award-winning performances, because she shines here.

The whole cast does a great job: Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Wood Harris, and the cast will get even better with each performance.  Opening night included the rich and the famous.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a must-see for anyone who wants to visit New York City and have a great weekend of Broadway enlightenment and delight. You can follow the cast on Twitter at @streetcar2012.