My daughter has been curious about the Blue Man Group since she saw them Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up.” She thought they were so funny and has asked me several times who they were. I have never seen their show, but have always wanted to.

Blue Man Group is best known for multi-media performances that feature three bald and blue characters who take the audience on a journey that is funny, intelligent and visually stunning. A live band, whose haunting tribal rhythms help drive the show to its climax, accompanies the Blue Men.

Blue Man Group

I jumped at the opportunity when Broadway San Diego asked my daughter and me to see the Blue Man Group performance this Friday at the San Diego Civic Theatre and interview Steven Wendt, one of the Blue Men! Steven has performed experimental theater, has been a puppeteer for Cartoon Network and Kids WB and is a professional Hand Shadow Master.

Unfortunately, Princess D was at school when I interviewed Steven, but she made sure I asked him questions on her behalf …

RED LOTUS MAMA: What was the original inspiration for the Blue Man Group and how has it evolved over the years? How did you become involved Blue Man and how do you bring your own personal spin to it?

STEVEN WENDT: It started, the 3 original guys came up with it because they were friends. They were working together. Actually, they were caterers. They were just buddies and they were also artists and musicians. They were kind of punk rock guys. Each one of them each brought a little bit to form what the Blue Man Group is today. Essentially they wanted to create a show that they wanted to see. There was a lot of theatre in New York at the time and a lot of art. And they were sort of experimenting with doing these ritualistic things like painting themselves blue and sort of doing street performances in New York. Eventually they had enough material put together that they could do a show. One of the guys created these PVC instruments. The first the show they opened up is called Tubes in New York. They rented the Astor Place Theatre for 6 weeks and it has never left. It has been there for over 20 years.

Eventually they just couldn’t do the show, the 3 of them, alone. They began to train others to do the show. It opened in a couple of different cities in the US. The first one was Chicago after New York, then Boston, and then Vegas and Orlando. They just trained more guys as they went along.

I was trained 2 years ago. I got the call because upon graduating from Cal Arts I did a number of small experimental theatre pieces in LA. One of the things at the Center Theatre Group was creating experimental theatre using plastic and doing unusual things. I worked with another Blue Man Group performer on that.

I’m an actor and musician and I felt like I wanted to be a part of something where I could bring my own individual artistic ideas to the table. I auditioned…it was a 3 day long call back. For me it was a cool audition because I didn’t speak at all. I couldn’t speak. There are no lines. There was no script to learn. They wanted to see how you could work well with others without even speaking. How you can complete a task with other people without using any verbal language. They wanted to your commitment to working together. So it was pretty fun!

RLM: You guys all look the same on stage, but do you bring your own personality to it? Are you able to infuse who Steven is? Or are you taking on a full character that they’ve developed.

SW: It is totally individual. Everybody has a Blue Man within them. It is physical storytelling, the physical body as a language…we try to strip away any certain vocabulary that we use so we can bring in our own personality completely. They want us to just be ourselves. In order to keep the audience with us we have to simplify our physical language on stage. The Blue Man is a person with a universal body language…because everybody can be individual we are allowed to push the boundaries of what a Blue Man is. It is completely about each individual being themselves and less about learning how to be a Blue Man or taking on a character that someone else made. The character is just a template for freedom.

RLM: I saw in your bio that you are Hand Shadow Master. What is that?

SW: I do hand shadow puppetry. Which is something I got into at Cal Arts…one of only 2 schools where you can get a Masters Degree in Puppetry in the country. I didn’t get a Masters Degree in Puppetry, but I worked with a lot of puppeteers and they did this thing once a semester called the Puppet Cabaret…I was on the committee scheduling it and working on how to produce [it] each semester. I learned hand shadows and it totally blew up. Eventually after I graduated I was being hired for parties and events. I was flown to Vegas one time to do hand shadows for a Japanese company. The first time I saw Blue Man Group I was in Vegas for a hand shadow gig.

PRINCESS D: Is there a reason why the Blue Man Group picked blue as their color? Why not Green Man Group or Red Man Group?

SW: One funny thing I like to say is that the blue color just matches the name! I heard that one of the guys had a vision as a kid. He saw a Blue Man in his dreams. People associate so many things with colors. So to find a really neutral based color which you can be expressive and draw people in and create a show…they discovered that blue is really the best one!

PD: Is the blue stuff on your face a mask or paint?

SW: It is paint. It’s oil paint. Like Vaseline. Like a really thick oil paint. We wear a bald cap and then we glue it down. They are actually special made because they are really sleek. There’s a woman that makes all of them. She’s developed this perfect latex formula to make a really nice thin bald cap.

PD: Do you have any pets and, if so, are they blue?

SW: No. I wish I could have a pet, but I am on the road. I like to just pet other people’s pets.

PD: What is your favorite food? (I’m guessing it is blueberries.)

SW: I like clams actually!

RLM & PD: What do you love about being part of the Blue Man Group?

SW: Love working together with friends. I love the friends I have made. I love that we all have the ambition and desire to have fun and create something we can share.

Blue Man Group

Make sure you catch the Blue Man Group while it is here this weekend in San Diego. Tickets are on sale now at www.broadwaysd.com.

WHERE:
San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 3rd Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

WHEN:
Friday, October 3 at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 4 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, October 5 at 1:00pm and 6:00PM

To learn more about Broadway San Diego’s 2014-2015 Season visit www.broadwaysd.com. You can also follow Broadway San Diego on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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