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Blue Man Group

April 2009

MORE than two million people have seen the show in the US but its one and only trip across the Atlantic was confined to London's West End.
As a result not many people outside the capital 'get' The Blue Man Group.
So, to spread the word, Aurelien Bernard, one of the three Blue Men who will be performing to thousands at the Trent FM Arena next month, came to the EG offices to try and explain the appeal.
That said, the Frenchman, dressed all in black but minus the blue physog, reckons it can't really be explained. That you have to see the show to understand it.
Without the luxury of a Tardis, we'd better try.
It's surreal theatre and slapstick, with video, a light show and rock music. Three bald, blue and mute blokes play pipes, spit paint and throw marshmallows.
And there's a story to it: They're explaining How To Be A Megastar.
Clear? Thought not.
The idea grew from New York's underground art scene in the late 80s.
These days there are so many shows running around the world that there are 50 Blue Men.
Aurelien has been one for the past six years.
"The three original blue men are still working for the company but they don't perform so much anymore," says the 34-year-old.
"They're quite old and the tour is very strenuous so I don't think they could do it anymore."
He was a session drummer before he joined the group.
"Not with anybody famous," he insists.
So how does this differ?
"I play a character. You have to fake all these emotions through the character to the audience. We don't speak so we have to communicate with the audience on a somewhat deeper level."
That's too deep. It's OK, he simplifies it...
"It's like clowning. It's not like we're acting like clowns but there is a big element of clowning (involved). There are a lot of Blue Man actors that came from clowning because they know how to use their body."
He adds: "It's been fun. I think that's the reason why I've stayed six years."
His first shows were in New York, then Las Vegas and eventually London.
"I came to open the show in the West End where we stayed for 18 months. We didn't have a great run compared to the old Blue Man group who used to stay (in one place) for a long time. But the West End is difficult, you know. There are a lot of shows."
Well, 18 months isn't bad.
"It's all right. Of course it's not like Cats where you spend 20 years in the same theatre."
As part of the show they will usually drag a member of the audience on to the stage. Which must freak them out.
"Yeah, sometimes. In fact, most of the time (laughs). I can feel them shaking but we never force anybody. It's not about that, it's a very peaceful thing. If somebody doesn't want to come, it's not a problem."
He adds: "What's cool about the Blue Man is that we're incognito."
Surely that goes against your initial dream to be a rock 'n' roll star? No-one knows who you are.
"(Laughs) No, my rock 'n' roll star dream was just a kid's dream. I'd like to play for somebody like Peter Gabriel. That would be like a dream. And I wouldn't mind being a teacher or writing music to become a better musician."
Is the blue covering your heads paint or Latex?
"It's make-up. It's really gooey. No, it doesn't smell. The blue is Yves Klein blue. Yves Klein was a painter from my hometown and who created his own shade of blue."
So why are they bald and blue?
"It was not a thought that just came out of some kind of dream or subconscious idea. The founders talk about bald because it's used to explain the character as vulnerable, a bit like a child. And also on the other side of the spectrum, superheroes are bald. Like The Silver Surfer.
"If we painted ourselves red we'd look like the devil. If we paint ourselves green we'd look like Martians. So we're blue."

The Blue Man Group: How To Be A Megastar, Trent FM Arena, Wednesday May 13, 7.30pm, £39.50, 08444 124624.

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