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Blue Man Group to do its music-and-multimedia thing in Syracuse

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Russell Rinker believes we all need a little Blue Man in our lives.

“A Blue Man is a very gentle character. He’s very playful and fun, patient and has no ego. I think all of us could use that,” he said.

This blueprint for benevolence comes from experience. Over the past decade, Mr. Rinker has done several stints as a member of Blue Man Group.

Audiences will be able to enter the curious Blue Man world Thursday through next Sunday when the Blue Man Group tour stops at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse as part of the Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series.

But what is a Blue Man?

“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Mr. Rinker said earlier this month from Atlanta, where Blue Man Group performed six shows.

Blue Men are always bald and, yes, blue, on stage as a trio. That dates back to the 1980s in New York City and founding members Chris Wink, Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman. Blue Man Group is known for its groundbreaking theatrical shows that combine music, comedy and multimedia elements to produce a dynamic concert.

More than 25 million people worldwide have seen Blue Man Group concerts, according to its website.

Blue Men do not speak or sing. Musical instruments are their playthings, and they are joined by a four-piece rock band.

“It’s definitely unique, a lot of fun, has great comedy, music, really cool technology and social commentary,” Mr. Rinker said of the show. “It’s kind of a weird science experiment.”

Blue Men exude innocence. “We refer to it as a hero clown,” Mr. Rinker said. “He has heroic elements, but doesn’t know it.”

He added that the Blue Men demonstrate their own characteristics.

“As the show evolves, there are certain moments that play into each guy,” Mr. Rinker said. “One is kind of the scientist, one is the trickster and one is the reluctant leader.”

The roles of the Blue Men are rotated among actors at different shows.

“That keeps it very fresh,” Mr. Rinker said.

All of the music in a Blue Man group concert is original.

“It’s very primal, very visceral,” Mr. Rinker said. “You have that kind of beat that has been affecting humans since music was invented. You also have stuff that is more modern, like rock music. Blue Man music has a very distinct sound. We have created our own musical language. When you hear it, you think, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s Blue Men.’”

The show is appropriate for families, Mr. Rinker said.

“Kids love it because they get it,” he said. “They get the fun and the imagination, the creativity and all that. But adult audience members kind of forget that in their daily lives. We are consumed with stress and work and forget to play, to have imagination and to be silly. We are trying to bring out the inner child in them.”

Mr. Rinker, a native of Strasburg, Va., said becoming a Blue Man often involves a “long, winding road.”

“It’s kind of a weird way to make a living, so we find people from all sorts of backgrounds,” he said. “It’s such an odd combination of skill sets that we have actors, drummers, clowns and dancers.”

Besides the touring show, Blue Man Group has standing shows in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Berlin and for the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Mr. Rinker has been an actor and musician all his life, “beginning at the age of 4 or 5.”

“It’s what I always wanted to do,” he said.

He began his Blue Man Group gig in Chicago, where he auditioned after seeing them in concert.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “I just thought it was a great combination of music and acting. I thought I’d do it for a year or two if it works out; here I am 10 years later.”

This is Mr. Rinker’s first touring Blue Man show. He has performed nontouring shows of the act in Las Vegas, Boston, New York and other cities.

He was asked if it is hard to get out of his Blue Man character once he leaves the stage.

“It sounds kind of funny, but I’m really good at looking at things now, because the Blue Man doesn’t speak. He just looks,” Mr. Rinker said. “And he doesn’t just look, but looks deeper and sees things differently.”


The details
WHAT: Blue Man Group presented by Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday through next Sunday at the Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse
COST: Ticket prices range from $33 to $60. To order, call the Famous Artists box office at 800-745-3000 or log on to ticketmaster.com or http://famousartistsbroadway.com.
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