What do New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and Sioux Falls all have in common? Well, aside from being the largest, booming metropolis of their respective states, they all have the privilege of hosting shows by the Blue Man Group. Coming this September, residents of Sioux Falls and the surrounding area will have the opportunity to see the show of a lifetime; a show even the members of the Blue Man Group can’t put into words.
I had the opportunity to personally talk to one of the Blue Men who will be visiting Sioux Falls: Kirk Massey. Massey is 28 years old and has been performing with the Blue Man Group since 2005 – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Massey grew up playing music his whole life, and discovered his passion for acting late in his high school career. When he first discovered the Blue Man Group, he knew it was exactly what he wanted to do. The rest is history.
Well, except for the almost yearlong duration of auditions before he landed his role as a Blue Man.
How long did the audition process take?
It ended up taking me about 6 to 9 months from the first time that I auditioned until the point where I started training for the show.
What were the auditions like? What did you have to do?
When I auditioned at the open call [in Chicago] it was like a two-day audition. The first day it was a drumming audition to see what kind of drummer you were, and the callbacks the next day were an acting audition. I did those, and then six months later in Vegas it was much of the same thing; miscellaneous acting games, telling stories with your eyes, that sort of thing. And then ultimately the final call back in New York is you learned a little bit of the show and you got “bald and blue” as we call it, and then performed that for the directors.
How many people were at each audition?
When I went to Chicago there were probably hundreds of people since it was just an open call. I got there pretty early and there was a line wrapped around the building even when I got there. But then by the time I made it to New York there were six of us for the final callback.
What was the most nerve-wracking part of auditioning?
Probably the most nerve-wracking part was the waiting in between each round sort of a thing just wondering what the next step was. But it was a lot of fun. They kind of took all the pressure off from the moment that you walked in. They were just kind of like “hey how’s it going?” and found out a little bit about me. By the time we started actually working on stuff it just felt easy; it kind of felt like class or a workshop. It wasn’t like a nerve-wracking “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh” type of thing.
What do you guys do to get pumped for your performances?
Everybody kind of has their own thing. But one of the main things we do before the show is a little moment that we call “3 is 1” where the three blue men get together in a little circle and just have this mini moment before the show. We will talk to each other and get each other pumped up that way. Sometimes we will even look at each other and just sort of have that visceral communication starting from that point before we even walk out on stage that night. The same three guys might do something completely different the next night, but that’s kind of where the show starts.
Do you travel with the same three men on your tour?
We actually have four guys on tour. Three guys perform each night and one guy has the night off – a show off every fourth show.
How long does it take you to put your makeup on? And what is the process?
We kind of have it down to a science now. It takes us like 30 minutes tops to finish. But we start with gluing a bald cap down to our heads, because the character has no ears or hair. So the longest part of the process is waiting for the glue to dry. So we basically paint the cap line with glue and wait for that to dry and then we put down the bald cap, and then after that it’s just smothering ourselves in blue paint until you can’t see anything anymore.
If I were a Blue Man Group member I would do this… Do you ever just put your makeup on to walk around town just to get noticed?
Haha, no I think they would get mad if we did that, but some guys will sometimes leave a little bit of eyeliner on when they leave to go out to the bar or something. That’s kind of like the hidden trick.
How would you describe your show?
That is one of the best questions that anyone can ask and it is one of the hardest questions to answer. You would think as long as we’ve been doing this we could come up with a good answer for that; but the best way to describe it is a rock concert/science/art/vaudeville/theater all rolled into one big thing – and a giant dance party.
What is your favorite memory with performing with Blue Man Group?
I don’t know if I can even boil it down to one thing. One of my favorite parts about it is the opportunity to tour. I love being a part of this. I love seeing new places and being on the road and meeting new people and places I would have never have gotten to come to. I mean Sioux Falls is some place I would have never gotten to come to, but I generally fall in love with places like that.
What are your plans for the future?
That’s a great question. I have thought of that often. For the foreseeable, near future, I plan on doing Blue Man for quite a while. But at some point, if I ever did kind of break away from blue man, I would probably find myself in New York or LA auditioning for theater or film.
Blue Man Group will be performing at the Washington Pavilion Sept. 2-3. For more information on the event, visit www.washingtonpavilion.org.