The well-tended washboard belongs to Sebastian Stan, who plays Hal Carter in William Inge’s 1953 drama, “Picnic.”
Hal is the horndog drifter who wears his ripe, ever-ready sexuality on his sleeve.
When he’s got sleeves, that is.
Hal spends much of the first act without a shirt.
“It’s so important to the story,” says Stan, when asked about all the beefcake. “It’s about a small town in the ’50s and the repression.”
The role of Hal required the 29-year-old actor, who got hooked on theater growing up in Rockland County, to get in the shape of his life.
“The job presented a nice opportunity to push myself in a big way,” says Stan. “I’ve always been fit, but have never been to this point.”
He credits help from trainers Don Saladino and Ryan Johnson at Drive495 in SoHo for whipping him into shape.
The workout regimen included a mix of high-intensity cardio, weight training, plenty of shuteye and an eating plan that centers mostly on lean protein. Picnic fare, like potato salad swimming in mayo, wasn’t on the menu.
“I eat eight times a day,” says Stan. “Between the time the play ends and I take a bow, I down a protein drink.”
Saladino, who specializes in getting actors ready for a role, applauds Stan’s “unbelievable” dedication.“When Sebastian took his shirt off,” he says, “he wanted people’s mouths to drop open.”
Or their eyes to pop out. And that includes the elderly woman played by Ellen Burstyn. She and other characters stare at the half-naked Hal like a starving lioness eyeing a hobbled antelope.
Whispers of approval have been heard in the audience too.
The actor takes it in stride. “It’s fun,” he says. “I’m lucky that this is part of my work.”
Stan’s role as Hal wraps on Feb. 24, when the show ends its run at the American Airlines Theatre. He starts filming the sequel to “Captain America” in April. And he says his workouts will go on. “I told my trainers that they’re stuck with me for life.”