Becoming a member of Blue Man Group is a lot like joining the Mafia.
Once you’re in, there’s no way out. It’s pretty much a life sentence.
“We have a lot of guys who will retire from full-time duty to maybe move to Los Angeles and get into the film scene, or move to New York to do [other projects],” says Kirk Massey, a full-time Blue Man since 2005. “But they’re still always around and doing [Blue Man] gigs here and there. Once you’re in, there’s never really a definite end date.”
Ordinarily, that sort of whimsical approach to staffing a theatrical piece could potentially wreak havoc on a performance where precision and synchronicity is pretty much everything. But not with BMG, which is anything but an ordinary show, Massey explains.
“Everything we do is usually so precise in a lot of ways, and you’ll never make it on stage until its really in your bones, really inside of you,” he says. “But when that happens, it becomes second nature because of all the rehearsal we put into it.”
If you’re just tuning in, Blue Man Group is the avant-garde theatrical group that was formed by three college buddies in New York in 1987 and kicked around small venues in the city for five years until it became an off-Broadway smash.
The show is difficult to categorize. Ask five people who are familiar with the show to describe BMG — which is always performed by three actors roughly the same size and build and all wearing the same blue faces and bald caps — and you’re likely to get five answers: performance art, modern-day vaudeville, a rock concert, a science show or a crazy dance party.
Massey, 29, admits neither he nor his fellow Blue Men can find a definitive and singular description that fits.
“We struggle with that same question ourselves,” Massey says during a recent phone call. “When people ask us [what we are], we start fumbling with our words, too. [The show has] no words and no script written out. We do have a template we follow. The show is all about the Blue Man trying to connect with the audience.”
Massey acknowledges it takes a certain type of ego for any artist who survives the audition process and joins the Blue Man ranks. That’s because anonymity is one of the trademarks of the ensemble.
On stage, thousands of people cheer for the performers and, in some cases, treat them like rock ‘n roll stars. But once the show ends and the blue makeup and bald cap come off, the actors can — and often do — blend into the crowd.
“There’s an ‘egolessness’ that has to be part of the performer that does the show, because the character is a very egoless character,” Massey says. “The character has a really a childlike innocence and looks at everything with innocent eyes and doesn’t really judge anything.”
Four actual Blue Men travel to every show, but only three perform at any one time, which gives each cast member a day off during an extended run. On days when BMG does two shows, Massey says he often times his arrival at the venue for when the first show is letting out so he can eavesdrop on crowd reaction to the show.
“It’s sort of cool because you get to spy on the audience and hear what they’re saying,” he says.
Massey was a percussionist from California by way of Georgia who dabbled in acting and knew he wanted to do something in the performing arts world when he graduated college.
A friend told him about Blue Man Group, which Massey had only known though early Intel television commercials the group had done. Massey wasn’t initially interested until he saw their live show.
“From the moment I saw the show, I was hooked and thought this is really something I hope to be a part of some day,” he recalls. “That led to my auditions and not too much longer I as living in New York and training to be a Blue Man.”
The show Blue Man Group is bringing to Caesars Atlantic City July 13-20 is different than the ensemble’s last appearance here five years ago with its “How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0,” which was the first Blue Man show to incorporate lyrics into its live music.
The new show, Massey explains, more closely resembles the “sit-down” performances Blue Man Group presents in cities where they’ve been featured for years, including New York, Boston, Orlando and Las Vegas.
“If you’ve never seen one of our shows, then this is a complete introductory experience,” he says. “If you have seen it, then you’ll be seeing a refreshed and updated version. Thirty to 40 percent of the show is brand new, and the rest of it has been updated.”
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