Since the group’s inception in 1987, the Blue Man Group has dazzled audiences around the world with its mix of comedy, music and multimedia. Made up of a rotating group of three men, the Blue Man Group is instantly recognizable to audiences around the world by the members’ signature bald, blue heads.
Ahead of their one-week stint at the Fox Theatre, member James Marlowe talked with David Atlanta about what to expect from a Blue Man Group performance, as well as how he became involved with the troupe.
For anyone who’s not seen a Blue Man Group show before, how would you describe the experience?
Well, it’s very much that—an experience. It’s different from a lot of the other shows you’ll see. It has a very strong character, but not necessarily a storyline. There’s a plot, but not a full-on narrative to it. We try to think of it as an experience, really.
How did you personally get involved with Blue Man Group?
Well, I went through an open call audition in London, and I didn’t really know much about the group at that point. But we had six rounds of auditions in London, and it really intrigued me, the whole process [of the group]. At the end of that, I was offered the chance to go for a two-month training/audition in New York. Having passed that, I became a Blue Man.
You’ve performed with both the localized groups and the touring group. What are the differences between the centralized and touring groups?
The difference for this tour…first of all, the difference from this tour to the previous tours is that they’re more like the sit-down shows than the previous tours that have been around. Those tours are much more music-based, and this one is much more about bringing what is going on in the cities, the character-based performances, out on the road. Having said that, it’s not the same as our sit-down shows. It’s kind of a bigger show out here. We have great new technology, which creates rich and stunning pieces. But yeah, we’re trying to bring that character-based show out on the road, and add a bit more surprise and spice to it.
Can you tell me a little about the audience interaction that normally comes with a Blue Man Group show?
Yeah, sure. One of the things that’s different about the shows is that there’s no fourth wall. From the very opening, the Blue Men are aware of the audience. That plays a huge part in what happens, with the Blue Men really trying to establish a connection with the audience. You’ll often be sitting there [in the audience] and a Blue Man will be looking straight at you to kind of see if you’re thinking about something, or see if what he’s doing is creating a connection, which is what the show’s all about—creating a connection with the audience. So that’s pretty much how it is; the audience is pretty much another character in the show.
What is it like performing with the Blue Man Group?
It’s a lot of fun. It’s a really interesting character, and playing the character is very infectious. There are guys who have done this job for many years, because it’s so infectious to perform. We have this connection with the audience, which the characters strive for, but also you have this amazing connection with the other guys. Because the Blue Men can’t speak, you always have to communicate with your eyes, and you start to know so much about the other guys; by the way they’re looking at you, you can tell exactly what they’re saying. You’re having full-blown conversations up there, but it’s not with words. That’s one of the most entertaining things about it. It’s also a very optic show. We’re using space in different ways. The Blue Men come at it not knowing “the rules.” It’s fun—there’s a connection, an openness, really.