Into the blue: behind the scenes with Blue Man Group

By Kevin Karn

blue man

Consisting of three bald men, dressed in all black and painted completely blue, its members are instantly recognizable. In fact, the Blue Man Group, founded in 1987, has performed for millions of people to date and is one of the most well-known acts in theater. While so many are familiar with the act, it is still difficult for people to say what the show is truly about and that is what makes it so intriguing.

“It’s hard to describe to someone else,” said Patrick Newton, a seven-year cast member of the touring Blue Man Group. “It’s not ‘Beauty and the Beast’, where you know the Beast is going to transform at the end. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

On Friday, Oct. 3, USD students can experience the anomalous spectacle and nationwide phenomenon as it brings its tour to San Diego’s Civic Theatre, located on Third Avenue downtown. The show continues through Sunday, Oct. 5 with five shows scheduled over the three-day span. If audience members can expect one thing, it is that their show will be unlike anything that anyone has seen.

“It is different every time you go and it will be unique to that evening,” Newton said. “Blue Man really cares about the shows and it’s very specific to the theater they’re in.”

Newton noted the first time he experienced the performance and the profound impact that it had on him.
“Deep down I was so floored at what I saw,” Newton said. “It was an opportunity for me to use exactly what I was interested in.”

Those interests, which he describes as both odd and inconducive to a lot of other jobs, include acting, performing on stage, audience interaction and his first love, percussion. The chance to utilize all of them in one exhilarating atmosphere made it clear where he wanted to be.

“Blue Man, for me, was something predestined,” Newton said. “I was born to do this.”

Many people, especially college students, often struggle with finding a particular career path that suits their interests and skills. While Newton recognizes that his circumstances are uncommon, he views the performance as a way for an audience to connect to more than just what is occurring onstage.

“The point of the show is all about connection,” Newton said. “Both us to the audience and the audience connecting to parts of their selves they haven’t thought about.”

Those connections can also take physical forms as well, with members of the audience being pulled onstage to participate in various parts of the show. It creates an element of surprise and unpredictability that challenges the actors.

“As an actor, you spend your time trying to know what it is to be alive onstage,” Newton said. “There is so much audience interaction with other trained experts that it forces you to be completely honest the entire time.”
The necessity to act honestly is also present in Blue Man Group’s inability to talk during their performances.
“When you’re not able to talk about something, you’re not able to put your own bias on it,“ Newton said. “You have to absorb and perceive things in a different way without shooting your trap.”

Each man is part of a whole, unable to be distinguished from the others. Newton explains the phenomenon of stepping into this unique role.

“I love the fact that no one knows who I am outside of the show,” Newton said. “Putting on the makeup and costume is deconstructing yourself and wiping your slate clean.”

Students can go and experience what it is like for three identical men to work together silently in order to convey messages clearly to the audience. The show appeals to all senses and there is no better advice to give except: Go see it for yourself.