Arts News

The Blue Man bills honesty and innocence

Among the other-worldly beings of the Blue Man Group prepping their Salt Lake City stop at Kingsbury Hall, Dec. 6-11, one performer spoke with QSaltLake about what to expect from the new tour. Bhurin Sead has been performing with the troupe since 2008. He explains how the Blue Men reflect the innocence and curiosity of a child and what it takes to be a true Blue Man. For tickets, go to KingsburyHall.org.

You got a degree in human biology from the University of Texas. How did you go from there to being a Blue Man?

I grew up playing music and I was lucky enough to have parents who put me in piano lessons. I always loved music. When I went to college I started performing with the student theater group, just on the side. After graduation I was working in a lab, using my degree and I realized I still wanted to perform. I found an open call for the Blue Man Group and I thought it would be fun to see what the auditions were like. I just wanted to have fun on my lunch break. I didn’t think it would go anywhere, but they let me come on.

Kind of like a rags to riches story, in a way.

Yeah, it’s really great that the company keeps that possibility open for people like me. There are people on the company with strong theater backgrounds and there are others who don’t have much experience at all. If they want to succeed, the performer or the actor has to have the ability to be honest and be himself. That’s the most important factor in being a Blue Man.

How would you describe the show to those that have never seen it?

That’s always a tough question. It’s really a mixture of a lot of things – multimedia, comedy, music, science and audience participation all wrapped up into one show. Unlike a lot of other musicals that come to the theaters where we perform, ours is not story-based. It’s more about the character and watching him discover the stage and interact with others. There are three guys and they’re just trying to see what’s going on. You watch them deal with an everyday prop, like cereal or a Twinkie. A Blue Man never takes anything for granted. He’s got a perfect childlike sense of wonder.

What changes have you seen in the show since you joined in 2008?

Recently there was a huge change and this tour debuted a lot of new material. The company is taking advantage of new technology with huge LED walls. We’ve got set pieces that move in and out and a new set with a gigantic iPad. It’s sort of commenting on the state of things now and how people are so involved with and touch-screen devices. I’m just as bad as anyone else, I’m always on my phone and we’re looking how Blue Men would react to that.

What are the challenges of taking an enormous Vegas-style show on the road?

Sometimes it can be difficult to adjust to different theaters. Regardless of what show you’re doing, the challenge is to make it feel new and fresh each day. And I think it’s fairly easy for us to have this new experience because we’ve got this huge unknown factor with audience participation.

There are always questions about what the space is going to be like. But I think the unknown of the show is where it finds its energy. And of course our crew works really hard to load everything into the theater and get everything ready for us.

There are so many elements to the show. What is the rehearsal and preparation process like?

After you get hired as a Blue Man, there’s an eight-week training process. They put you in a studio in New York to learn about the Blue Men, how they think and act.

The real test comes when you get on stage. There’s only so much you can learn without performing because so much of the show relies on audience interaction. It’s definitely nerve-racking. I remember my first performance, I was completely nervous and scared.

Is there a message to the Blue Man Group? Or is it just for entertainment?

Yes and no. What we hope, at the end of the night, is that everyone had a great time. But there is more to it than that. The Blue Man, his personality, lives in the moment and is not worried too much about what has happened or what is going to happen. He’s willing to take risks and really relish his life in the present. I think it’s easy to go through every day and take things for granted. I think the Blue Men represent what we would be if we were to peel away our social masks. We all walk around with these masks and if we were to peel them away and really remove our ego, we’d find a Blue Man inside of all of us.  Hopefully by the end of the show, people take that away a little.

Why Blue Man? Why not Red Man, or Green Man?

I have no idea, really. The creators thought it was just right. Red, green, orange, they all have connotations. Blue has no connotation.

What is your favorite part of the production?

I love the moments in the show that don’t go according to plan. There’s a flow and there’s a script, but the audience participation makes it impossible to follow completely. I love having a moment, when I’m looking at the audience member and she’s looking at me and neither one of us know what the other is going to do.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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