With Blue Man Group visiting Richmond this weekend, we got member Kirk Massey chat with GAYRVA.COM about everything from the show – like putting on the makeup!
GAYRVA: For no one who has ever heard of Blue Man Group, how would you describe it?
Massey: It’s actually something really hard to do. The best way I can describe it is if you were to combine theatre, a rock concert, art, science, a crazy dance party, and also a vaudevillian comedy, then sewed that into an explosion of a multimedia experience, that’s what I can describe what the show is.
What’s your favorite element of the show?
I do have a favorite piece of the show. There’s a section of the show where we bring a lady from the audience on stage with us, and we proceed to have a dinner with her. Because it’s someone that we pick at random from the audience, anything can really happen at that point. It always pretty much keeps us on our toes, and that sort of X-factor of “Who knows what’s going to happen?” makes it really fun and really new every night.
I’m sure it provides a gateway into some comedic moments for sure. Any you care to share?
There’s all kinds of crazy stuff that happens. One of the more memorable ones I was a part of, about halfway through the piece I guess the lady had decided that it was enough fun for her and she proceeded to get up and leave the stage, but she did it in a very hurried fashion. She kind of ran off the stage. We were told later by someone on the house staff that she just left the theater. She must have had too much fun.
You would think that even if people were embarrassed they would at least wait until the end of the performance.
It didn’t seem like anything bad or anything like that. She just kind of decided that she was a little freaked out, and that she was done, and that was the end of it.
Is there any other audience involvement that goes on?
There’s a couple other times when we invite someone on stage with us, and then we also ourselves go out into the audience. What makes our show different from a traditional theatrical show is we don’t have full on fourth wall. Our whole show is the blue man trying to connect with the audience. Because of that, the audience is a very integral part of the show, as it’s about trying to establish that connection. They are like another cast member in a way.
So obviously you are on the road and on tour, has there been a favorite city you’ve been to so far and what has it been?
There’s been a lot of great places. One of the things that I love about it is I get to go to places like Fort Wayne, where I am right now, that I probably never would have found my way to, under any sort of normal situation. Every single place seems to have its own unique charm. We were in New Orleans…to be there for the beginning of Mardi Gras was exciting for me.
Did you get a lot of beads?
We had a party one night and had a bunch of beads to throw at people, it was a really fun night.
How long does it take for you to put on the makeup?
The make up is only 20-30 minutes. It’s a pretty simple process, it’s just a vinyl bald cap that we put over our hair and our ears, and then it’s just a blue face grease paint that we lather our face with.
Does the makeup ever make it too hot?
Definitely. Each show I probably lose around five or ten pounds of water weight just sweating. But, that’s with any show…with the lights and our heads and bodies covered. Sometimes, it depends on the weather outside and the theater we are in; you kind of feel like you are in your own personal sauna. It’s really intense. But at the same time it really helps you to be able to loosen up and be flexible throughout the show.
Any Pre/Post Show rituals?
We do a sound check and just kind of vibe with each other that day. Then we start the make-up process an hour before the show, even though it only takes about 20-30 minutes, we spend 30 minutes to an hour just hanging out with each other listening to music…Right before the show itself, the three blue men get together and huddle up just to have a little moment before stepping on stage.
There’s a theme in your shows about information overload. Do you feel the world that we live in, with all this instant communication is a blessing or a curse and how does that relate into the show?
I think it’s probably a lot of both. Obviously there are great things about having the world at your fingertips, with smart phones today and the Internet today. I’m sure at the same time there are probably bad things about that sometimes. It’s probably easy to lose the human connection with people. The Blue Man, the character, looks at things like that from a very child-like, innocent way. There is a part of the show where he’s dealing with a giant smart phone/iPad type device; he’s just trying to explore that and figure out how it works. It’s just basically the exploration of one of those things, and “How will it respond if I do this to it, can I get this to help me to connect with somebody that is keeping me from connecting with somebody?”
Would you say there is a part of the show that is political in nature given the commentary on instant communication?
I think the whole experience about our show is that the Blue Man never actually says anything. There’s no dialogue, no script. I think one of the reasons that our show applies to absolutely everybody is that you kind of get to write that for yourself when you’re watching yourself.
You can very much choose to read into whether or not there is some commentary; that sort of pathology and how that’s intertwined in our culture, or you might look at it and say well it’s very tongue and cheek type thing, or you might be thinking it’s just a fun thing, a man playing iPad. I think it’s one of those things that makes it so appealing, just so many different people regardless of your age or culture can interpret at as anything.
Why should people see the Blue Man Group?
At the end of the day it’s definitely a lot of fun. I have seen a three-year-old kid and a 93-year-old grandmother with the exact same look on their face after the show, it’s usually the same feeling that we’re feeling as performers. Especially someone who’s not necessarily used to theatre, I feel like it’s one of the better shows you can bring them to because it’s not your traditional theatrical performance. It’s something that has a little something for everybody, no matter where you’re from, you’re almost guaranteed to have a lot of fun.
Blue Man Group performs at the Landmark Theater on April 27 – 29. For tickets and showtimes, visit Broadway In Richmond.
Justin Lowenhagen is a local news anchor, reporter, and actor. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Dec. 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.
“Every season, we look forward to bringing the best of Broadway direct to Richmond and presenting all of these shows at the beautiful Altria Theater.”April 7, 2016
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