Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Q-and-A: All the guys in Blue Man Group are bald, right?
They reveal their wizardry to us just before the Dallas show.
Blue Man Shane Andres is excited to bring a new shade of blue to his home state. Originally from Houston, Andres is one of 35 Blue Men in the troupe, and they perform all over the world. The eclectic ensemble of four very blue dudes invades the Winspear Opera House December 26-30, bringing audiences laughter and song that's appropriate for all ages.
We ask Andres the tough stuff, like how he puts on all that blue. Read on:
Pegasus News: How did you get involved with the show?
Shane Andres: I went to school for drama, as did most of the guys in cast. I attended North Carolina School of the Arts, and when I graduated I moved to L.A., I had never seen the Blue Man Group, but I heard about about the audition so I went for it and got invited to callbacks in New York. Of that group, they chose a few to go into training, which was 8 weeks long.
Blue Man Group is this untraditional, unorthodox theater, so you end up doing things you never thought you’d have to — throwing things, putting things in your mouth. Most of the guys are actors and musicians. I did the show in New York for a while, the show in Boston, the show on a Norwegian cruise line, and, in a couple years, I’m going to be in Orlando.
You’ve been Blue for how many years?
I’ve been with company for 5 years. It has been weird going from a classical theater school where it’s all about dialogue and going into something were all communication is nonverbal.
What kind of experience did you have as a musician before joining the Blue Man Group?
My dad taught me on a drum kit when I was young. He was a drummer himself. I took the typical route of a rock band while I was high school. But I wanted to be an actor. I always thought drums would be a hobby. When I graduated and heard about The Blue Man show, it became this hybrid. The show is very music oriented. We have to constantly improve ourselves musically while silent acting in this vaudevillian/Buster Keaton/Chaplin style.
How many Blue Men are there total?
There are four Blue Men in the touring cast and, in domestic cities such as Las Vegas or Chicago, about six performers in each cast. In the U.S. there are about 35 of us. It’s interesting because people tell us, “Oh, you’re famous!” Really, the character is famous. The creators used to play the Blue Men and, as time progressed, they thought it would probably be a good idea to train someone in case one of them got hurt.
Tell us about the new show coming through Dallas?
We filmed our rock concert tour in Dallas and had good audiences. This is the first time were taking our theatrical show on the road. It’s the best of both shows. The show has to stay current with the times. We have our staple pieces, but we have what we call “refresh material” – taking things of our culture and poking fun at it. The Blue Man takes these objects and things we see every day and turns them upside down and turns them into a science experiment. At the end of the day, I think people like seeing the Blue Man responding to this stuff.
Why do you think audiences keep coming to see the show?
It allows them to just for a moment drop the daily mask that we wear. We get so caught up in our daily lives, and the show really brings out the inner child in everyone. I like the adults that you see [there]: They have so much of the world on their mind, and for an hour and 30 minutes they smile and laugh and forget about it. The Blue Man character is very simple in his mindset and he’s a trickster and playful. The comedy in the show, it’s so well written, really a testament to the creators, because the show does much of the work for us. It’s classic funny.
I’ve seen a lot of video of Blue Man Group in a natural setting, meaning off stage. How often are you in character?
Occasionally we’ll do what we call a disturbance. One time we went to a frozen yogurt shop, Blue Man style of course. Someone brought up the idea. You know, you can’t go to the mall and be Hamlet; you can’t take the character out of the show and have it relate. Not only does the Blue Man work in the show, take it out the door and people are still curious. In the outside world, he is still curious about restaurants, malls, parks, and the same rules apply. It’s an extension of what we try to accomplish in show – blur the line where the show can exist.
What kind of reaction do you get during a disturbance?
You get a lot of slack jaws because they don’t quite know what’s going on. They wonder, “Are these the real Blue Men? Or are they people with really good costumes pretending to be the Blue Men?” It’s very different from the show. When you enter something guerilla style, people kind of freeze up. At the frozen yogurt shop, we ripped a corkboard off the wall and made a painting out of it. People started smiling once they got past the idea they weren’t being held up.
I have to ask about the costume. Give me a run through of how you get prepared for the show and how long it takes.
It takes about an hour. You could do in half if needed. Basically I put a bald cap on to cover my ears and hair. People are shocked to see we aren’t bald. Then I take grease make-up and start lathering my whole head with it. It’s pretty easy once you get to that process. The make-up is the consistency of Vaseline, so it doesn’t dry. I put on my black suit, boots, gloves, and I’m out the door.
See Andres and his team live December 26-30 in Dallas.
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