Blue Man Group, the smash hit show with productions delighting audiences all over the globe, is making a stop in Omaha this week to take the Orpheum audiences on a thrilling ride with its non stop action, laughs and musical numbers - not to mention audience participation. BWW in Omaha columnist Analisa Swerczek had a chance to sit down with one of the shows main actors, Kalen Allmandinger, and ask him a little about himself, as well as about this wonderful show.
Hi Kalen! Thank you for taking a few moments with speak with Broadway World in Omaha.
How did you become a performer?
You know, while growing up, performing was something I was always drawn to. My grandfather was somebody I always looked up to and he was a drummer. He sort of introduced me to drumming and performance. He would take me to concerts and he gave me my first snare drum and first drumsticks. I’ve been playing drums since as early as I can remember. My grandfather was always very supportive, and I always sort of assumed that was the career that I would go into and continue to pursue. In high school I auditioned for the school play and I found that I really enjoyed that as well. I guess that was the time where I actually started acting. It is something I went on to study at the Chicago College of the Performing Arts, which has a conservatory style program where we were taught acting techniques, voice and movement, etc. I really enjoyed that as well. When Blue Man came along, it basically combined those two disciplines (drumming and acting), and it was right up my alley.
For those of us who have never seen Blue Man Group before, how would you describe/explain this production?
You know, that’s something that I always struggle with because it is so different and it’s not a show that can be neatly summed up. A friend of mine recently described it as stepping inside of a painting as it’s being made. I think that’s as good a description as any. There’s a lot of music and comedy, with huge technical elements as well. But there are also smaller, quieter, and simpler moments where it’s just kind of about the character and the audience, as opposed to the large-scale production. It really revolves around these characters and their desire to have a connection with the audience. There is no fourth wall in this show, and the characters realize that. It’s really an interactive experience where the action on stage sort of spills out into the auditorium, including taking the characters into the audience, as well as taking some audience members on stage.
Are there actually characters in this show? If so, how do you approach them as a performer?
Yes, and in a lot of ways, it’s the same way you would approach any character. I think what’s so universal about this show is that these characters are really going after truth. If you can be honest in your portrayal of it, the audience will go along with you and your character… But they won’t buy it if you are faking it. I think that’s where your life experience comes into play, as you bring parts of that to your performance. And with this being a non-speaking show, you have to find other ways to communicate through your character, such as through the music or the physical moments of the show.
I see that you have been touring with Blue Man Group for quite a while now. How do you keep it fresh after so many performances?
In performing, if you find yourself just going through the motions in any show, it’s going to become boring/dull for both you and the audience. I think that’s where you really need to challenge yourself as a performer. You need to find different types of doorways into that honest portrayal of your character, and to almost trick yourself into believing that this is the first time you that you’ve ever done the show. You need to be very present and in the moment. It’s a lot like life, actually – focusing on the now and not focusing on the past or future. You learn to be surprised by the subtle differences of each show. It’s great, but challenging at times.