Blue Man Group Takes Windy City By Storm

News   Blue Man Group Takes Windy City By Storm
 
Now that Chicago has welcomed Blue Man Group, the Windy City production is sure seeing a lot of green.
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group Photo by Photo by Richard Feldman

Now that Chicago has welcomed Blue Man Group, the Windy City production is sure seeing a lot of green.

Chicago columnist Chris Jones noted in a recent "Reader" that because so many cast-members now rotate in the shows (including the ongoing Off Broadway and Boston companies), and because the Chicago production operates sans an Actors Equity Association contract, Blue Man Group can bend the rules on the number of performances in a given week. Jones estimates the Blue Men will set a Chicago record during the week after Christmas -- with 20 performances in one week. He also quotes industry insiders as saying the Chicago run could last more than three years, and one of the Blue Men as saying it's likely the ensemble will soon get its first blue woman: "A woman changes the whole dynamic of the show," one Blue fellow admitted.

Asked about the possibility of a distaff member joining the azure crew, spokesperson Manuel Igrejas told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 12), "A woman has never been out of the question, but it is tough to cast. You need someone 5'10" to 6' tall and an excellent drummer. Plus you need a certain quality of performance. You can't be Eddie Cantor -- it's a particular style, and you just know when you see it. Plus the show requires a long training process." That said, Igrejas noted the show's full-time casting department has several resumes of women up on its walls as possible candidates.

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The Windy City officially turned blue Oct. 12 when the avant garde theatre trio, stationed its third resident company in Chicago, IL. These "curious, gentle beings from inner space" -- who munch Cap'n Crunch, toss marshmallows at each other, create colorful works of spit-up art, drum and play specially designed instruments -- took over the Briar Street Theatre on North Halsted. Previews began Oct. 3.Originated by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, the group began performing on the streets of Manhattan and then graduated to PS 122 and Dixon Place. After an unforgettable stint at 1991's Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival and an Obie-winning run at La MaMa, the Group opened Nov. 1991 at Off-Broadway's Astor Place Theatre. After 1,500 performances, they're still going strong -- and still sending tons of paper cascading over audiences' heads.

Oct. 1995 saw a second Blue Man company open in Boston, and on Jan. 25 of this year, open auditions were held for replacements and new castmembers in the three companies. (Initially, creators Wink, Goldman and Stanton did 1,000 straight performances as the trio before taking a break and selecting new cast members Chris Bowen, Jeffrey Doornbos, Andrew Miller, Randall Jaynes, Michael Dahlen, Steve White, Brian Scott, Shawn Sturnick, Kristian Thorsen, James Ludwig and Pete Simpson. Newly cast are Thamus Rounds and John Grady. It's not so easy to cast Blue Men, since they not only have to have solid acting and drumming skills but must be between 5'10 and 6' and the body type of the other cast-members.

For tickets ($39-$46) and information on Blue Man Group in Chicago call (773) 348-4000. For tickets and information on Blue Man Group in New York call (212) 254-4370.

--By David Lefkowitz

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