Saturday, April 2, 2011

This man is not Blue in Franklin

Have you tried catching marshmallows with your mouth?
Matt Greene has and he really does catch them.

How does he do it?
Practice. Practice that comes with having performed in over 1,000 shows with the Blue Man Group in Boston.

How did you do more than 1,000 shows?
In Boston currently there are five guys rotating through the three positions for each show. Each role/character has different business to conduct. The roles are structured more jazz-like playing riffs off each other than following a script word for word. There is also a three man band that is highly integrated with the Blue Men. The band also rotates through their positions. So with six different personalities in each show, no two shows are exactly alike. Business needs to be accomplished but exactly how we get there is open to interpretation. That is what makes it interesting. If you had to do every show, the same thing, exactly the same way, every night, it would get tiring very quickly.

Where did the Blue Man group start?
They started in New York. Boston’s group was the first outside of NYC. They wanted to ask the question: could it exist and survive outside NYC? It could and has so well that the Blue Man show has also expanded to other cities: Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, and internationally in Berlin and Tokyo.

How does the show work?
You play within some structure. The music is still as much fun to play today as it was five years ago. You get your schedule at the beginning of the week and you know which role you are going to be for each show. You can go several weeks without having the same line up. The personality within the group plays as much importance as the role. The group thrives on a certain vibe. The drummer could be waiting for you to set this up. If you don’t go, then the other musicians are waiting for you, and him. They need to find each other. So you learn to recognize when to step outside the box, when to stay within. After each show there is a recap, the group discusses ‘how did that work?’ It is not judgemental. Valid feedback is required to foster the collaboration within the group. The vibe is key.

How do you train?
A new person comes to the group with about 6-8 weeks of training in NYC. We teach them how to come in here. It’s not formalized. It is more apprentice/master with doing and showing; this is how they learn. Then they figure out later when to vary. Some of this workout is done in the rehearsals. Amongst all the play, there is still a lot of technical things that you just have to get right. It may look like it but we are not really running around making everything up. You need to master your business first. Then you can think about your character and how it should react.

What is the show about?
I never answer that. It is different for everyone. It can’t be summed up. It is something that has to be experienced. Which is why it has been staying around for so long.

So how does a Blue Man come to live in Franklin?
He wanted more space than he could have in Brookline. Aubrey and I had been looking for awhile. As nice and convenient as Brookline was, we started looking around. We wanted a yard for the dog, room to raise a family. We heard great things about Franklin. We heard about the top 10 lists. The distance concerned me because I needed to commute into Boston. Sometimes I take the train which is really convenient. I can walk to it. It gets me there earlier than I want to but it takes me home almost exactly when I need to. And then I can also drive and get there at the last minute. So I mix it up.

Aubrey’s photography business can still serve Boston. She can also get down into Rhode Island so it works out very well for us. The commute is not as scary as I thought it might be so we’ll be here for a while.

What keeps you busy when you are not a Blue Man?
I am a strength and conditioning coach. I also write a blog, where I share information on proper training techniques, which I guess is how you found me.

Yes, I found Aubrey’s photography page and from hers, found yours.

Franklin, MA

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