Three Blue Men drumming
To be a member of the Blue Man Group is a lesson in humility. To the untrained eye, all Blue Men look alike, so if you were looking to get famous, being a Blue Man is probably not the way to go.
But that doesn't mean the group's members aren't talented — and shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Before the Blue Man Group takes the stage in Dallas at the Winspear Opera December 26-30, we sat down with one of this tour's members to get a feel for what life is like as a Blue Man.
Shane Andries, a Houston native, has been a Blue Man for five years. He's performed in shows in New York, Boston, Orlando, on the Norwegian Cruise Line and now the national tour.
CultureMap: What made you want to work with the Blue Men in the first place?
“Every time you change shows, you change casts,” says Blue Man Shane Andries. “It keeps the show fresh.”
Shane Andries: I went to drama school and trained to be an actor, and I played drums growing up. When I got out of acting school, Blue Man Group was this kind of neat show that combined both things that I loved. It was something that grabbed my attention and I wanted to do from the moment I heard about it.
CM: What’s been your favorite part about being a Blue Man?
SA: Working with all the different actors. Every time you change shows, you change casts. The group of guys I’m working with now, we’ve been doing the show together for a couple months. It keeps the show fresh.
I also love the character itself. As actors, we (usually) play characters that speak and use dialogue as one of the ways they communicate. The Blue Man character doesn’t speak — it communicates with its eyes and its gestures and its body.
That was something that was fun to tackle, to do a show that was completely non-verbal. The character has this innocence and this kind of eagerness to learn about him that’s really fun to play with.
CM: So if your character’s more innocent, are the other characters much different than that on stage?
SA: Depending on the night, depending on the show, different Blue Men can have different aspects. But all in all, each character has all of these elements. One show the Blue Man might be a little more trickster; one show he might be a little bit more shaman or scientist or whatever you’re feeling that day. All of those aspects are coming together and that kind of helps with the comedy in the show.
CM: I’m sure the show is relatively scripted, but is there any element of improvisation in the show?
SA: Yeah, the show definitely has a script and a story to it, but there’s so much room for improv. We bring people on stage from the audience, so that in and of itself we don’t really know what they’re going to do. There’s a lot of wiggle room.
We’ll have a structure for a scene and how it’s supposed to be — we have kind of a starting point and an ending point — but all the stuff in the middle is definitely improvised. That’s another thing the keeps the show fun and fresh and exciting and new.
“We’ll have a structure for a scene and how it’s supposed to be, but all the stuff in the middle is improvised,” Andries says.
CM: Does it ever bother you that only your friends and family can tell who you are on stage?
SA: The anonymity that being a Blue Man brings with it is just part of the fun. After the show we’ll be walking around on the street (out of costume) and we can hear people chatting about the show, and so it’s kind of funny to stand next to people.
Being on tour, we’ll usually grab dinner after the show. If it’s a downtown setting, we’ll see people talking about the show, and nobody knows that we’re sitting right next to them.
CM: Have you ever been tempted to go out in public dressed as a Blue Man?
SA: When I was doing the show on the Norwegian Cruise Line, we immediately left the show and went to the Halloween party on the back of the boat. Everybody was confused because they didn’t know if we were passengers that did a really good job in dressing up as the Blue Men or we were the actual guys that were in the show.
A couple times when I was doing the show in Orlando, we left the show and we went to a frozen yogurt shop. It just confuses people, and the character is just as confused because he’s curious, so he’s not quite sure how to pay for the yogurt.
It’s fun to take the character outside of the realm of the theater. And it works in a weird way — it's a further example of how Blue Man is this kind of unorthodox thing.
CM: Is there anything special that the Dallas fans can expect at the shows?
SA: We’ve got a brand-new finale. The finale has always been about connecting the audience. The whole show is trying to make a connection with the audience, and we used to have this scene that people loved.
But the new finale, in my opinion, does an even better job of connecting the audience, and it’s something that I don’t think any theater has ever seen before. It should be fun.