BWW Interview: Steven Wendt of BLUE MAN GROUP At Majestic Theatre
BLUE MAN GROUP has been performing all over the world for more than 25 years. Cities like New York, Las Vegas, and Berlin have permanent residencies of the hysterical, light-hearted, multifaceted group. There is also a tour of BLUE MAN GROUP that love to entertain audiences all over North America. They will make a stop in San Antonio, Texas November 22-24, 2019 with limited shows at the Majestic Theatre. BWW had a chance to chat with long-time member of BLUE MAN GROUP, Steven Wendt who shared with us some secrets to their side-splitting, hilarious high jinx as well as some of his own beginnings and how he became part of BLUE MAN GROUP.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Secretly, I wanted to be musician but, I was afraid to admit it. I thought it might change the mystery of it happening. So, now, it's kind of a blend of acting and musician.
Do you remember the first time you ever walked out on stage to do anything?
Yes, I do. I was in a square dance performance in fourth grade in Kansas City. My mom said I took it very seriously. I remember doing it, but she said I took it so seriously.
Do you remember the reaction of the crowd? Did you feel their energy or were they not very energetic?
I did feel their energy. It's exciting. I still love it. I love the designated time to be giving. I like the formality of theater. It's wonderful and that's what I'm attracted to. I love that. Kind of sacred.
You've been doing this for a little while but what did you do to audition for being part of BLUE MAN GROUP?
That is fun because there are no sides. There's nothing to memorize because they don't speak. They gave us situations; impromptu situations that they made up on the spot; the auditioners. We had to tell the story that they gave us just with our eyes and non-verbally. They would say come in make an entrance, do this situation, this scenario that we give you and make an exit. So, that was day one. Also on day one they did a drumming little test, skill test for drums. Then the second day it was more with other people, more random scenarios. Then the third day they got us all in blue. It was three days of callbacks.
Do you remember any of the scenarios they gave you?
My scenario was I was an off duty police officer and I walk into a bar. I see across the bar the mob that is responsible for killing my family. I immediately realized that I'm unarmed and I have to leave without being noticed.
I thought it would be something comical but it was very serious.
Yeah, it was serious. That's the thing. I think they wanted to see how we could take things really seriously because serious is funny.
Now you've been working with BLUE MAN GROUP for a while now so what do you think has been the biggest challenge about being part of BLUE MAN GROUP?
The first thing that came to my mind was sometimes I equate it to being in the service, like the military because you do get to eventually choose where you go. If you want the job, you have to go where you're needed. I first went down to Orlando for a number of years and I went on tour a bunch. I've had to be very flexible [that's] the toughest part. But I still enjoy it so much. I play all three roles so I'm able to mix it up and have fun each night to night.
Do you change from night to night?
Yep. And this show is brand new. We've only done maybe 55-60 performances. It's a brand new show and it's a lot of new content so if you come to see it in San Antonio, you're in for a real treat.
What is the last thing you do before stepping out on stage?
The very last thing we do is three Blue Men circle up and hold hands and look at each other and connect and get excited!
What is the process doing makeup and getting in costume and how long does get ready?
We have a whole hour to get ready and get into character. The process is putting a bald cap on our heads; it's this vinyl bald cap and then we take about a half a cup of this blue makeup and we just rub it all over our heads like paint. We have a wardrobe specialist who helps us get ready. But, a lot of what we do is on our own, just in front of a mirror.
You put the blue on your face yourself too?
Yep I do. Right up into my eyes and up my nose. Then we warm up a little bit; a part or drumming chop and things like that. It's fun. It's a process; it's pretty wild! It's totally fun. A great vibe. We have fun with the local crews who are a big part of putting up the show. We couldn't do it without them. If we get a chance we like to hang out a little bit with them. It's a great environment.
Is the blue makeup comfortable? Do you have any reactions to it? Is it hard to take off?
It's comfortable. Some people have reactions but it's ultimately like rubbing Vaseline all over your face. It's moisturizing. It's great. A lot of people are like wow your skin is so good. You want to know the real secret? We take it off with avocado oil.
What do you think is something that's going to surprise people the most about this new performance? Without giving anything away.
We have brand new instruments. It's a brand new tour and there only two pieces that are in the show that you will recognize if you've seen the show before. We play "Drum Bone" and "Gumballs and Marshmallows." You're in for a real treat. There is [also] a moment in the show, I don't give too much away, but we sample the audience. We play music based on what the audience gives us. We actually record them so if anybody wants to bring like a saxophone or something to the to the theater, please do it. Or a kazoo or anything because the tough part about it is a lot of people don't bring noise making devices to a theater show but this as you know isn't really your typical show so, yes, if you're inclined to bring something and hold it up and what we'll do we'll come sample it use it in the show. We have pieces that work without any instruments. There are certain things that we look for that [like] percussion instruments that people do have that we end up using and that's a surprising thing. So, it's just a little insider information. You can publish it if you want. You heard it from one of the guys from BLUE MAN GROUP.
Don't miss this one. It's going to be full of fun and laughter and entertainment. There are only five shows and limited tickets left. Check out the Majestic Theatre's website for showtimes and tickets.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsey Best