A “Blue Man” Lesson on Authenticity
When my kids were young we let them listen to music from The Blue Man Group. My wife and I had gone to see their traveling “Rock Concert” when it came through Salt Lake City. In my huge CD collection I had their albums “Audio” and “The Complex”. Both of them fun albums that had a tendency to make my little toddlers move and groove.
Now we live in Chicago and those little toddlers are speeding furiously toward their teenage years. Music is something that is becoming their own now. They have their very own distinct tastes, but they still get caught up in it and they still move and groove to it.
Last week I was invited to bring my family to a Blue Man Group show at the Briar Street Theater in Chicago where the troupe is in an open-ended residency. I jumped at the chance I was pretty excited to watch them react to a show I had no doubt they would love. My oldest is fascinated by electronica and pop, and my youngest leans towards rock and anything percussive. This show is a great blend of everything they love musically.
I knew the music would be a hit, the fun stunts, clever physical comedy, and witty narration just sent my boys over the edge. A friend sitting one row in front of us said he had wished he could have taken a picture of my oldest with his eyes wide, mouth open, and hands on his head. Yeah, it was that kind of experience.
As part of the trip we got to meet one of the “Blue Men” and one of the Musicians and ask questions about the show. It was an awesome experience to get a little peek behind the curtain. We found out that catching marshmallows in your mouth takes daily practice. We learned that 90 seconds is about all the time you get to prove that you are good enough to make the Blue Man band. We also learned that there is a ritual to “going blue”, and if you have the desire you can get out of the blue man costume and makeup in 20 mins (apparently it is a little work to “unBlue one’s self).
The most profound thing I took away from the experience was the answer our “Blue Man” gave to “What happens if you pick a bad ‘volunteer’ from the audience?” His answer was that there is no such thing. That the beauty of the show is that when they engage the audience whatever happens is the right thing. Making each show a one of a kind unique experience.
I loved that answer. As a father, I want my boys to go out into the world and live authentically. I want them to approach it with wonder and awe. Whatever happens is their truth. It won’t be perfect all the time, but it will be theirs, and that is as it should be. I think it is easy to lose that sense of wonder and discovery as we get older. The routine of our daily lives and the cynicism and skepticism we develop to inoculate us from the world’s ills tend to dampen our desire to look for wonder. Sometimes you find it in fun and exciting ways and we did, for a handful of minutes last week my family and I got to experience it fully with the Blue Men in Chicago.
By the numbers each week the Blue Men Group needs:
- 17 crew members to run the show. Including wardrobe, props, video, sound, electronics, deck and stage management.
- 60 drum heads, including both the band loft and stage
- 16 cymbals are used with the drum kit
- 64 drumsticks
- 550 feet of piping are used to make the PVC tubed instruments
- 50 gallons of paint.
- 32 pounds of Jell-O
- 8 boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal
- 40 pieces of white chocolate Toblerone
- 385 marshmallows
- 444 mashed up bananas, 30 pounds composted per week
- 44 boxes of Twinkie Lights (each Twinkie has just 130 calories!)
- 28 cakes of blue makeup specially made for Blue Man Group (they even have their own proprietary color Blue Man Blue)
- 21 bald caps
- Enough laundry detergent to do 75 loads of laundry every week!
For a full show schedule and ticket pricing, please visit www.blueman.com/chicago.