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Monday, February 04, 2008

Get the Blues

written by Alfredo Flores

Photo Credit BMP

On Tap magazine February 2008
There's no such thing as an average day for Blue Man Group performer Wes Day. What looks like an extraordinary effort to look the part of a Blue Man is actually quite simple. First, he puts on a blue latex skull cap, some theatrical glue and blue face paint. Then he slips on a black jumpsuit, black shoes and blue gloves, and in 20 minutes he's a Blue Man. You too can be a Blue Man, the point of the Blue Man Group's latest effort, "How To Be A Megastar Tour 2.1," coming to the Patriot Center for two shows starting Feb. 9-10. But while looking the part is simple enough, being a Blue Man ain't easy — just ask some of Day's fellow Blue Men in other cities who have gone down on the job. Injuries range from carpal tunnel syndrome and broken wrists from repeatedly beating gigantic drums; to sprained ankles and knee injuries from lifting heavy backpacks, walking on the back of audience members' seats and performing on slippery surfaces. "It's a dangerous show, man, a lot of pain involved," said Day in an interview for On Tap. "It's pretty physical theater, but we need to do it since it's a very technical show." Indeed. There are many moving parts in a Blue Man show. In addition to playing unique tailor-made Blue Man instruments, like the huge PVC pipes, Airpoles, Piano Smasher mallet, and Aronophonic cymbals, Blue Men make a special effort not to break from their naïve mute characters. They stay focused while stage platforms whiz by their heads, paint flys out of their drums and they toss glow-in-the-dark marshmallows into each other mouths from across the stage. The premise of "How To Be A Megastar Tour 2.1" is simple: Take an audience member's credit card and "charge" $4,000 to order the manual on "how to become a rock star." Then follow steps such as bringing a guest vocalist onstage, perfecting the one-armed first pump, pelvic thrusts, raising the roof and other dance moves to deflect attention away from shortcomings in other areas, such as singing. Once the audience member becomes a "rock star," they must develop an iconic rock persona. One can start by altering their appearance in ways to help them stand out — "like playing around with lots of make up," Day said. You'll also need to work on your personality. If you do not have a lot of natural charisma, you can compensate with a descriptive name such as "The Edge," "Slash" or "Scary Spice." "The group inspires a lot of creativity," Day said. "It's kind of a tribal experience that just about everyone can get into. People have misconceptions of the show, and see it as some weird performance art, but when those same people actually come see us they find themselves laughing really hard."

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