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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 39
Behind the blue: An interview with a Blue Man
Arts & Entertainment
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Behind the blue: An interview with a Blue Man

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

Blue Man Group
Paramount Theatre
October 7-16


The Blue Man Group. The name itself evokes a certain sense of intrigue and mystery. Their vibrant blue bald heads, with the stark wide eyes and black uniforms, stare out from the poster, making us wonder who (and what) they are. As the Blue Man Group makes its entrance to the Emerald City, Seattle Gay News caught up with Bhurin (pronounced 'POUR-on') Sead, a Blue Man veteran of over three years.

Eric Andrews-Katz: How would you describe what the Blue Man Group does?

Bhurin Sead: Blue Man Group (BMG) is a creative company that produces shows and involves itself in many outside groups and activities, beyond the show. There is the Blue School, which gives kids an opportunity to express their creativity, and is an alternative to public schools.

Andrews-Katz: How would you describe a Blue Man performance?

Sead: It's sort of an Off-Broadway show - not really story-based, but more of a connection with the audience. There are moments that are very specific with the audience that make it a special night, every night. You never know what the audience X-factor will be, and so it's really a different show each night. It's a one-of-a-kind experience that people seem to enjoy.

Andrews-Katz: What kind of audition process does someone go through with Blue Man Group?

Sead: It's a two-step process for auditioning. First there's the open call, which is the initial interview and an appointment to test their abilities with singing and acting skills. That's when we look at their timing, rhythm, and to make sure the actor is open to trying all sorts of new things. The call-back is in New York, and it's a two-day workshop where they work with the actual directors and troupe performers. If they work well, we hire them for training.

Andrews-Katz: Are there special talents that help with an audition?

Sead: I find it helpful for people who want to audition, to just be yourself and honest with who you are. That's the biggest asset, to help a person to get into the training and be willing to try anything. Just let go of the ego and have fun!

Andrews-Katz: How long do you rehearse before you can go into the show full time?

Sead: Once you get hired you go into training, and we can evaluate where you are performing. You need to recognize important parts of the characters. It takes about a year until the Blue Man is really inside of you, and has become a part of you. After that, it depends on the show you go into and the workshops. There aren't really rehearsals when on the road.

Andrews-Katz: How long does it take to get into costume, makeup, and character for each show?

Sead: The actual getting ready takes about 30 minutes prior to the show. Getting into character is different. For a lot of us there is a fine line between our Blue Man and ourselves, and it gets blurred after a while. We see the Blue Man; everyone has it in them, that childlike sense of wonder and innocence. We have to peel off layers to get to that Blue Man inside. One of the greatest exciting things about the job is that playfulness, getting into character and joking with the cast and band members. We try to find that vibe of the trickster energy.

Andrews-Katz: How long does it take to get out of costume?

Sead: It can be quick. Often though, I will find blue in my nose and behind my ears for days afterward. The blue finds its way, and it's easy to hide somewhere.

Andrews-Katz: With all the blue make-up you have to wear, do you follow any special skin regiments?

Sead: Not really. Since we are putting the blue on every day, for the most part, we just use a good facial wash. Some of us use jojoba or maybe aloe, that's about it.

Andrews-Katz: How messy do the shows get for the audience?

Sead: In our shows, the first few rows will have ponchos issued. The goal isn't really to get the audience messy, just involved. The ponchos are precautions.

Andrews-Katz: So the shows are audience participation?

Sead: Oh yes, it's a funny thing to watch. Christopher Lloyd came to one of our shows, and we were like little kids watching. We made him part of the show. We bring people up from the audience, and parts of the show happen in the audience. We can play with them - it's fun.

Andrews-Katz: How many different Blue Man Groups perform in the world?

Sead: There are currently five domestic cities: New York (where it all started), Boston, Chicago, Orlando, and Las Vegas. There are two international tours in Berlin and Tokyo. The Norwegian Epic Cruise Line has had a permanent Blue Man Group on board for over a year.

Andrews-Katz: How often does the material change in Blue Man Group?

Sead: It's always changing. The latest rewrites happened about a year ago, and more material gets put into new cities. On tour we have a lot of new material. Blue Man always tries to stay on top of things, and we try to evolve with our world.

Andrews-Katz: What's your favorite part of the show?

Sead: Any time we get to interact with the audience, scripted or not, it's great. It's the most rewarding because you are just in front of the person, and are having this honest moment with them. They are trying to figure out the Blue Man, who can be scary sometimes, and people aren't always sure what to think of that. It's great to try and track the different audience members throughout the show. Hopefully, they leave a changed person. Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton formed the Blue Man Group in 1987. Since then, the phenomenon has taken off and spread worldwide. They have appeared on The Tonight Show, Scrubs, and Arrested Development, among many other shows. Their debut film, Blue Man Group: Mind Blast, is scheduled to be released this year.

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