Kirk Massey, a seven year member of Blue Man Group, took time to speak to Broadwayworld about the evolution of BLUE MAN GROUP, and their upcoming Pittsburgh tour stop. BLUE MAN GROUP performs at Pittsburgh's Benedum Center May 15-20, 2012.
I guess there still might be a few people out there who don't know anything about Blue Man Group, so can you start out by describing what Blue Man is, and what you do?
The best way I can describe it is theatre, a rock concert, vaudevillian humor, modern science, technology and like a crazy dance party, and you kind of mix all that together and explode into a multimedia experience.
This Pittsburgh stop is part of Blue Man's first 'theatrical' tour. What impact does the 'theatrical' aspect have on the show? What can we expect?
It' s going to be a lot more like the standing shows (in New York, Las Vegas, etc). The reason we're saying it's our first theatrical tour is because we toured in the past, but it was a rock concert. We did this experiment like, what happens if we take the Blue Man and we put them into a rock concert. It was kind of a tongue in cheek look at the whole rock concert life.
Whereas now what we're doing, we are actually touring a version of our sit down theatrical shows. We've taken a lot of what's in our sit down productions, and added about 30 - 40% brand new content that was created just for this tour , as well as refreshed some of the more classic pieces. And we're now touring this show throughout the US and Canada, which is really cool to take Blue Man into some new, really non-traditional theaters.
Are there some challenges to taking the stage shows and making them movable and transportable?
A little bit, but one thing that came out of this, in the theaters it kind of created a new challenge as to how to create the set. So what we're doing is using technology in a way that I've seen before, but never on this scale. The vast majority of our entire set are LED curtains. It kind of created a new environment for Blue Man to live in, and an environment that has limitless possibilities because you can put anything up there around them. Some of the other challenges have been that the show can get messy at times, and the Blue Man goes into the audience to bring people to the stage in certain parts of the show, and... especially like older theaters that aren't used to having Blue Man walk on the back of the chairs that people are sitting in - it's like a new venture for some of these more traditional theaters.
If someone aspired to be a Blue Man, how would they best prepare? Study acting? Drumming?
What we look for is people who are definitely a very strong drummer, because there's obviously a lot of drumming, it's one of the primary ways Blue Man communicates. But also we look for really strong actors, because basically the character is using music to tell his story, it's to tell a story or for him to communicate or to get something across, so very much strong acting chops. It's kind of interesting how people find their way to Blue Man. We don't have any set path. We definitely have a lot of educated, experienced actors, guys who have Masters Degrees in acting. And we have guys from the other end who came from a music background, but through the training process have been able to find a way to make that work, just because it is a sort of a fringe genre of acting, it's sort of its own piece in terms of playing a character. We also have a guy on the road right now who was literally working in a biology lab. People take all kinds of paths on how to get in.
I've read that there are actually Blue Women. Is that true?
There's been one woman, who performed in the Boston production for a year or two. She's the one we've had so far, but they are constantly auditioning. It's a little bit more difficult because of the physical requirements of the role and the build required, at least 6'1" and athletic build. But we definitely had a woman in the past and she was phenomenal, and woman are very much always welcome to audition.
What is it about a member of the audience that leads you to choose them, above others, to interact with?
There's a lot of things that kind of go into it. One, we want somebody who looks like they're going to have a good time, somebody who looks like a little shy and nervous but who looks like they're going to come out of their shell. We look like somebody who's going to be a representative of whatever sort of vibe the audience has that night. We kind of decide while we're out there - it's all decided in the moment, and sometimes it's just completely random, it's on a whim, you just have a connection with somebody and say that's the person we're choosing.