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Blue Man Group's show open to interpretation
[January 04, 2013]

Blue Man Group's show open to interpretation

Jan 04, 2013 (News & Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Chris Smith's audition to become a member of the Blue Man Group in the spring of 2011 was strange, to say the least.

Smith, who has a background in comedy, was living in Los Angeles and looking for acting jobs. But Blue Man wasn't looking for the aspiring actor to tell a story using words.

They wanted Smith to use his eyes -- and a set of drums.

Eighteen months later, the 27-year-old is still using those tools to tell stories as part of the Blue Man Group theatrical tour. The group will hold two performances on Jan. 9 and 10 at War Memorial Auditorium.

"It's a good time. I can say that much," Smith said by phone from Dallas recently, where the Blue Man Group performed after Christmas.

Indeed, Blue Man is unique. Founders Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton started the group in the late 1980s. Performances features three bald actors painted in blue who entertain to the backdrop of drumbeats.

There is no dialogue.

"The blue men are silent, and their main mode of communication is ... through the eyes and through drumming," Smith said.

Having no dialogue does not take away from the performance, Smith said. Rather, it adds to it.

"It opens it up for you, the audience member, to write your own story to what's going on," he said.

Smith said group members refer to what they do as alternate Broadway.

"You get the big spectacle of a Broadway or a Vegas-style show with kind of the smaller, more intimate moments that you might find off-Broadway in smaller theater," he said.

The Blue Man Group has permanent live performances in seven cities, and a show on the Norwegian Cruise Line. There are now about 90 Blue Man actors, and there has even been a "blue woman" who performed with the group.

Becoming a blue man wasn't initially what Smith planned for his acting career. He was interested in TV and film acting.

He studied theater at UCLA, learned to juggle at the age of 12 and was a member of a clown troupe at one point -- all things that helped him snag the Blue Man job.

His goal is to write and direct movies, and he said being a part of Blue Man has given him time to work toward that because the performances are mainly held at night. The actors have the day to pursue their other interests. Smith even had time to write a script recently.

He is especially looking forward to the Greensboro shows. His father, Phil Smith, grew up in Kernersville. The elder Smith died in 2004, but other members of his family are planning to come to the show to see Smith perform.

Smith said the show will celebrate his dad's adventurous spirit, which he credits his own success to, in part.

"I think he would have been right in the front row with a big smile on his face," Smith said of his father. "I think he'd be really proud." Contact Jonnelle Davis at 373-7080.

___ (c)2013 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Visit the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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