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Blue Man Group entertains with comedy, percussion

Story by  Katie Ericson

Last week was rough with thunder snow, hail, ice and every other imaginable form of precipitation.

But people still turned out night after night for Des Moines’ big event: the Blue Man Group.

This performance has been all over the country and on Broadway. It stopped at the Des Moines Civic Center for a week, from this past Tuesday through Sunday, with jaw dropping performances.

Each night, people ventured through the slush and snow to watch blue-faced men throw gumballs and marshmallows to each other, play PVC pipe drums and make everyone in the audience crack up.

“We have been hearing nothing but wonderful things. Our audience loves the show,” said Communications Manager Cindy Hughes Anliker.

“The people who have attended the show have given it nothing but rave reviews.”

The Blue Man Group was created by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton.

The trio came up with an idea of a man that is not quite human with a fascination for humans, music and laughter.

Drummer Jesse Nolan spoke about this unique mindset in the master class he held in the Turner Jazz Center this past Wednesday.

“The Blue Man theory is that we have six creative mindsets: the scientist, the shaman, the group member, the trickster, the hero and the innocent,” Nolan said.

Shows focus on connections between these creative selves.

Actors interact with the audience, the musicians backstage interact with the actors and the music itself interacts with the audience.

Each show is structured around the same setup, but they are never the same.

The Blue Men choose different audience members that alter the skit, they miss tosses or cues and change the show in tiny ways.

This ability to improvise is what Nolan lists as a Blue Man’s main trait.

Each year hundreds of new people audition for the Blue Man Group. The only requirement is that you are fit and between 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-2.

“Anyone can be a blue man,” Nolan said. “We’ve even had women be blue men.”

Few people are chosen. Nolan himself didn’t make the group two times before becoming a part of the band.

Now he helps train future Blue Men as percussionists for the paint splashing drums and other rhythmical sections of the show.

He said it could take over a month to teach people how to play a single part of the show.

“It’s an iconic show that everybody knows and we really have to get it right.”

The show has lasted for years. It is the same series of skits and acts each time, but people just keep coming back to see the show again and again.

First-year Zach Britton had already seen the show but ventured through the storm last Thursday to watch the group one more time.

“I mean, I’ve seen the show before, but it was still really awesome,” he said.

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