BWW Interviews: Russell Rinker of BLUE MAN GROUP at Atlanta's Fox Theatre, January 15 - 20

I am curious, you refer to "the character", so are you all ultimately playing the same individual or is that left up to the audiences interpretation?

The Blue Men share many of the same characteristics. But they are all different, essentially three parts of one entity. The 'personalities' of the characters are based loosely on the original three Blue Men who created the show and started the company: Phil Stanton, Chris Wink, and Matt Goldman. The characters are the scientist, the trickster, and the reluctant leader. Some of this comes across to the audience, although we are often playing against what the audience thinks is happening. So much of it is up to their interpretation. As performers we all play multiple Blue Man roles from night to night, which helps to keep things exciting and fresh onstage.

So, what is it about being a Blue Man that originally drew you to the show?

I saw it before I had auditioned or was interested in doing so. I liked it because I could never quite put my finger on what was happening. I mean, there always seemed to be something different, strange, happening just beneath the surface. And I found that intriguing. I liked that the show was so funny, such great comedy writing. And I really enjoyed getting to make music. And I liked that the show was designed with a higher purpose, not just for entertainment. It was clear that it was commenting on our society, and trying to get us to connect, and then help everyone take whatever they acquire during the hour and a half performance out the door with them to share with the world.

For those familiar (or not so familiar) with Blue Man Group, how would you describe this particular production in a few words?

It's not just a show, it's an experience. It's unique, imaginative, fun, funny, primal, exciting, visually stimulating, technologically advanced, everything you want out of a theatrical roller-coaster ride of an evening.

So, I have to ask about the makeup. How long does it take to become "blue" (and to become yourself again!)

It takes about an hour to get the bald cap, makeup, and multi-layered costume on, and about half an hour to get out of it all. We have a great makeup/wardrobe crew that helps us.

And, I am guessing once the makeup is off, it is difficult to pick you out at the stage door!

Well I kind of have large distinct facial features, so I get recognized once in a while. But usually no one knows who we are, which is kind of nice. The bald cap covers the head, hair and ears, and combined with the makeup we do look quite different, obviously. Plus even though most of us have full heads of hair, most people think we have shaved heads, so that's often something they're looking for if they're trying to pick out the performers. Literally hundreds, maybe thousands of times, especially in Vegas and on the cruise ship, I've recognized audience members outside of the show, even people that took pictures with me at our meet and greet, but they never knew who I was. It's fun. Like having a secret identity.

With a tour like this one, you are constantly on the road from city to city. What would you say is the hardest part of that life?

This is my first tour ever. We're almost four months in to it and I've really been having a great time. The traveling itself and the constant packing and unpacking does take a toll. But overall it's been really great to see the country, to get paid to visit awesome cities all over. And performing in different theaters has been really fun as well. We've done everything from college auditoriums, to a 4,000 seat theater in St. Louis that was built in 1929 as a movie palace, to a brand new opera house in Dallas. It's been very exciting to explore these new spaces, both onstage and off.

And do you find the audiences and cities are different wherever you go?

Our show changes from night to night, based largely on the vibe and energy of that particular audience. So each night when the curtain goes up we are really curious to see what will happen. We're very fortunate in that most people are really excited to be there and to see the show, especially on tour. A lot of people tell us that they've been waiting a long time, sometimes 5 or 10 years to see it, and now they finally can since we've come to their city. So that's nice to know. The audience response has been really great. And whether we're meeting people as audience members, or just when we're out and about exploring the city, it's kind of cliched but it's true: people are different, but we're all basically the same too.

And have you played Atlanta before?

I personally have never played Atlanta before, but the tour has been to Atlanta previously.

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BLUE MAN GROUP will play the Fabulous Fox Theatre January 15 - 20. Performances are as follows: Tuesday, January 15 at 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday, January 16 at 8:00 p.m.; Thursday, January 17 at 8:00 p.m.; Friday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, January 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, January 20 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. For more information visit www.blueman.com.

Tickets range from $25 - $65 and are on sale now at www.FoxATLTix.com or by calling 855-ATL-TIXX (855-285-8499). Special group rates for 10 or more are available by calling 404-881-2000, emailing foxgroup@foxtheatre.org or online at www.foxtheatre.org/groupsales.aspx. Half-price tickets are available for the Tuesday and Wednesday performances by using the code "AJC".

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Feeling a little "Blue"? Going to see Blue Man Group? Talk about it on the Atlanta BWW Message Board

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Joseph Harrison Joseph Harrison has been involved with the theatre in some form or fashion all his life. He holds a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but his true love is the theatre which he has been involved in as a spectator as well as an actor for the last 20 years. He has performed in a variety of musicals over the years including PIPPIN, CITY OF ANGELS, 1776, WORKING and GODSPELL (Jesus) and JOSEPH?.DREAMCOAT (Joseph) just to name a few. He currently resides in Conyers, GA (Metro Atlanta) with his wife, Shannon and their two children.


 
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