Blue Man Group returns to Chicago | Culture & Leisure
The Blue Man Group returns after a period of strong COVID epidemic. They started performing live again because they felt people needed to perform after being away for so long. Their thoughts are correct; this amazing group of people are back to give members of the public a sense of what it was like when COVID wasn’t around. At the same time, they held their very first “College Press Night” for Chicago area colleges.
Although the Blue Man Group has struggled to get back into the rhythm of things, they do it by remembering why they are alive again. This reason is hope and happiness for themselves and the public.
For people who don’t know who this group of men (and sometimes women) are; these are blue people doing random crazy acts. They don’t play from a script, but instead create the script on the night of the screening. The Blue Man Group performs an array of things, from music on PVC pipes to throwing a ton of marshmallows into a Blue Man’s mouth. Thoughts are endless when it comes to showing off at night, but you are always guaranteed to drop jaw and emotions.
Blue Man captain Tom Galassi was able to explain the importance of their ideas and performances.
“You notice that it is [the show] not very literal. You can’t say ‘okay that’s a story’ and ‘oh that’s sad’ and ‘that’s the bad guy’, the classic thing. What we’re trying to do in an abstract way, in a new language (which makes Blue Man unique), is connect everyone in the audience. We scare you. In the end, it’s cool. You might look at people you don’t know and laugh with them. You might feel for the person who is chosen. Then we are not so scared at the end. We use all of these tools, characters and music to get to a place. There is no manual that says “this is what you do to connect everyone”. That’s the fun part about it, ”Galassi said.
Where did the idea for Blue Man Group come from? Well it was created like any other idea is created. Through a dream.
“Basically one of the guys who helped create this character [Blue Man] had a dream, ”said Galassi. “When he was a kid he had blue friends. It just worked, sometimes things do. It’s one of the things in the dream that worked.
How to become a blue man? Director Brett Presson first said that Galassi “was born that way”. But very seriously, Galassi recounted how he became one.
“I’ll give you the short version,” Galassi said. “I moved to New York in ’97 and started auditioning. I saw a poster of these guys [Blue Man Group] and no one really knew who they were. I think they were known but had not yet been on television. I didn’t know what it was. I hit the bullet in the head and started auditioning. It took me about six to seven months to get in. I was there about three to four days a week.
During her time with the group, Galassi spent a lot of time traveling.
“One thing led to another and I was sent here [Chicago] and then from here I’ve kind of been all over the world. I did open concerts in Vegas, I went to Japan. I toured for a year in this country [America] and Canada, ”said Galassi. “It’s my house [Chicago], that’s where I am most of the time.
Looking from the audience’s point of view, one wonders what this show was made for. Is that supposed to scare you? Maybe laugh or cry? Instead, these shows were made to let down our walls to each other. At the end of the day, we (the audience) feel like we’re not strangers to each other.
However, Presson noted that this dynamic has seen obstacles since the start of the pandemic.
“One of the best things we can do is disarm people,” Presson said. “We’re giving you an excuse to let your guard down. It’s a problem with the masks because I think so. Before the masks, the audience was able to connect with each other. The masks really do a number on society in general and keep us in our shell. ”
The Blue Man Group took a lot of time and dedication to make sure they were able to function as before. However, some of the acts they learned came back to them easily due to the years of experience they already had.
“Some of us started a month before everyone else should and put on the show. We changed the last versions of what you saw tonight and we chose different parts, we also added new parts that we had never done before, ”said Galassi. “[We] got some material for everyone to study in advance. Then we got together, it took a month. We’ve almost all been doing this for a very long time, so with bits and pieces we dust them off and get over them on our own. “
Even with this experience, it was difficult for the group to train with masks.
“We must have them on [masks] in the building. At first it took some getting used to because what we are doing is so physical. These things sink in, and you know some of us didn’t run marathons while in lockdown. We were forced to get back in shape. Now these things are normal, but the first two weeks [of training] I was panicking a little bit trying to play and have this thing, ”Galassi said.
It wasn’t just the artists at Blue Man who were struggling to switch to COVID protocols. Associate director and group member Jeff Quay struggled. The following quote contains a “do not try at home” factor, so please don’t try it at home.
“I really have a hard time with the mask. I’m that dude up there playing drums and stuff and I’m pretty breathless during the show after having sixteen months off. I’m really out of breath now. I really feel dizzy because I breathe my own carbon dioxide. We never complain about it because there are so many worse things in this world right now than my little problem there. It’s kind of a fun little high just to get a hum of my own carbon dioxide, ”Quay said.
After a few performances, the team was able to feel hope and encouragement.
“Getting back into the routine of performing has been a really good therapeutic thing for all of us,” Presson said. “Especially after I sat there wondering what was going to happen. Just being in a room going through the same thing is really encouraging.
The return of the Blue Man Group has to be one of the best things that has happened since the start of this year. Plus, being able to experience what it’s like to meet strangers in uncomfortable situations has brought back a sense of humanity that we all miss. While COVID will always be here and cause hardship for society, we can still look to the Blue Man Group for a sense of belonging and hope.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.