"The Blue Man Group is a way for us to let go of the identity we’ve built up all our lives and get back to a more primal and innocent mode of being"
- Kalen Allmandinger, Blue Man Group Performer
Step inside the visceral, hysterical and immersive world of the Blue Man Group with Kalen Allmandinger, who lifts the lid on life behind the infamous blue paint. A performer with the group for over a decade, Kalen tell us all about his favourite instruments and how long it really takes to put on all that blue paint.
TTG: How would you describe the Blue Man Group performance to someone who has never heard of it before?
KA: It’s a funny, visceral, and exciting show that you have to see in person to fully appreciate. Three Blue Men explore ways in which our society interacts and connects, creating live music and art along the way.
TTG: One of the key features of The Blue Man Group performance is that you don’t talk during the show, however, the performance seems to generate so many different emotions within your audiences. How are you able engage with the audience without speaking?
KA: It’s really fun exploring the ways in which we can be clear in our intentions without the benefit of spoken language. A lot of honesty and emotion can be communicated through the eyes alone, and when we have a specific and clear task or goal with obstacles to overcome, that creates opportunities for drama and comedy.
TTG: The performance uses a lot of weird and crazy musical instruments on stage, using everything from drums filled with paint to what looks like pipes picked up from a local plumbing supplier – can you talk us through some of your favourites used within the performance?
KA: That instrument is exactly what it looks like - PVC pipes you could get from any hardware store which are tuned to pitches, dictated by the length of the pipe. We play them like a percussion instrument. I love the way the instrument sounds, the dramatic and improvised feel of the music we play on it and the fact that it’s really just an everyday utilitarian object that has been transformed into something unexpected and expressive.
"We’re seeking out an immediate connection with each audience. We create an event that won’t be repeated in exactly the same way ever again."
- Kalen Allmandinger
TTG: The show is very interactive from an audience perspective, how do you go about encouraging that, and how important is the role of the audience in each show?
KA: We seek out the audiences’ reactions and let that influence the course of each show. We aren’t pretending to be someplace that we’re not. The character is right there, in the theatre, watching the audience as it watches him. It’s a huge part of what makes the show and the character unique. We’re seeking out an immediate connection with each audience as it’s gathered there and then. We get to create an event that won’t be repeated in exactly the same way ever again.
TTG: Is there an overarching story to how the Blue Men came into existence, are they aliens, why are they blue?
KA: Where the Blue Men come from isn’t important. Why they are here is. They’re here to seek out and create moments of connection between people. A shared event, a ritual, a celebration.
Just as the Blue Man Group is able to turn everyday objects into something dynamic and expressive, he is able to live fully in the present, devoid of ego that might get in the way of experiencing the now. A good way to look at it is that the blue, rather than a mask that covers up our faces, is a way for us to let go of the identity we’ve built up all our lives and get back to a more primal and innocent mode of being.
"Where the Blue Men come from isn’t important. Why they are here is."
- Kalen Allmandinger
TTG: How long does it take to get all that paint on and off? Are you ever tempted to go out in the Strip whilst still wearing it to see people’s reactions?
KA: We get to the theatre around 2 hours before the show starts so that we can get warmed up and in character. The actual blue paint is one part of that process, and definitely the part that does the most to get us visually into character. It’s so transformative. We sometimes have the opportunity to perform in other venues outside our theatre and it’s always fun to see the effect the character has on people.
TTG: Is it true that no two shows are really the same, how do the shows differ from performance to performance?
Each show has the same order of events that the Blue Men navigate, but how we get there can feel different from show to show. We invite a few audience members to join us directly either on stage or in the crowd (we don’t stay on stage the whole show), and that can create a real wild card situation where anything can happen, depending on who we pick and what they bring to the moment.
TTG: Why do you think the show has proved so popular over the years?
KA: I think the character is unique and intriguing. There’s a mystery to him. You never quite understand who the Blue Man Group is and that may leave people wanting more. The show is also really fun and provides an opportunity for people to laugh and hopefully be moved by something the likes of which they’ve never seen before.
TTG: What makes Blue Man Group stand out from other Vegas shows?
KA: Blue Man Group’s roots are performance art in New York in the 80’s and 90’s. It wasn’t conceived as a big Broadway show or a spectacle. It’s evolved over the years, but there will always be that raw, intimate element to it.
TTG: What's the funniest/strangest thing to happen during a show?
KA: There have been so many funny and unexpected moments over the years, but one memory that always floats to the surface is from when I was performing in New York and Michelle Obama came with Malia and Sasha and some extended family. As I mentioned, we go into the audience during certain parts of the show, and there were secret service members all throughout the audience. We were told to avoid the first family, but they were having a great time and Michelle kept pointing at Malia and saying things like “pick her!” It was a little unnerving knowing that there were lots of folks with guns under their suits who told us to leave the Obamas alone while at the same time the Obamas were having such a good time and wanting to be a part of it!
TTG: What advice would give someone who is visiting Las Vegas for the very first time, what would you tell him or her to see/do/eat?
KA: After you’ve booked your Blue Man Group tickets, don’t forget that while most people come to see the Strip (and there are plenty of cool and impressive things to see on the Strip), there is a lot to do and see off the Strip, as well. Chinatown is loaded with great restaurants and is only a few minutes from the Strip. Vegas is surrounded by mountains and national parks, and, if you’ve never spent time in the desert, I would recommend getting out on a trail. It’s a special kind of beauty here. Just don’t forget to bring some water with you!