From Las Vegas, Nevada, September 24, 2008
A Blue Man
With a Pink Face
Las Vegas Blue Man Group member Nicholas Kittle with Sophie Gayot
Blue Man Group is an artistic collaboration best known for theatrical performances that blend music, comedy and dramatic effects to create a unique entertainment experience. Wearing blue suits and blue paint on their faces, three performers make use of a variety of percussion instruments, multimedia theatrics and even food to produce a collection of humorous as well as thought-provoking skits that touch on an array of social and cultural themes. Different sized tubes are used throughout to create music during the show in addition to seven musicians that accompany the three blue men. Performances run one hour and forty-five minutes long without an intermission, and shows vary in each city based on the size of the theater and the cultural circumstances of the community. Although each spectacle may differ from place to place, all shows include the participation of the audience as well as an explosive finale with strobe lights and billowing strands of paper rolls, leaving guests thrilled and surprised.
During a visit to Las Vegas, we had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Kittle, one of the members of Blue Man Group, and took the opportunity to discuss the success of the wildly popular Vaudeville-themed show.
The Michigan-born Nicholas Kittle always knew he wanted to perform. Through the encouragement of his mother, at the age of 10, Kittle began playing the drums and taking tap dancing lessons, which he hated at first. At 17, he attended a Blue Man Group performance with his dance teacher. After that evening, his only dream was to become a Blue Man. A few years later, pursuing his instinct, Kittle auditioned in Las Vegas where he was up against 400 other aspiring performers, and although he made it quite far, he was, unfortunately, not chosen. A year and a half later, he received a call from Blue Man Group, who had remembered his talent, asking that he re-audition. This time he made it as a member of the Las Vegas cast. After two months of intense training in New York, where the show originally started, and in Chicago, his new life in Sin City became a reality.
Kittle says he has not had a dull moment since joining the Blue Man Group and enjoys putting on the six to seven shows per week. He admits that his favorite act is the second one in which the three blue men and audience meet for the first time. He says, “When we first introduce ourselves to the audience, it is an awkward and beautiful moment. It is as if the primordial self is looking out at the civilized self.” The scene escalates when the trio begins to play the drums, adding vibrant colors of paint to create a sight and sound explosion.
Before the show can start, Kittle goes through the process of preparing his costume. He first puts on his custom-made suit along with a bald cap to cover his hair and ears. Next comes the fun part as Kittle puts the signature blue paint all over his head. The world-famous colored paint is specially made for Blue Man Group and takes an hour to fully dry to ensure it won't run during the show. Kittle says it can get pretty hot under the latex cap, and a few touch-ups are required throughout the performance.
When asked to describe the message of the show, Kittle enthusiastically replies, “The performance centers around three enigmatic characters stripped down to their base features. The trio invites the audience to reawaken their sense of awe and wonderment, their spontaneity and sense of community. Modern man has become so isolated; we have really become a bunch of tightly-scheduled people. Blue Man Group seeks to unfreeze the audience and bring people back together.” Kittle notes that the show’s universal appeal stems from the fact that the performers are completely silent throughout the show. “We don't need to use language to communicate. We talk through our drumming and our physicality.” He adds that that although there are three men, they are meant to act as one unit or one body. (Perhaps that is why it is called Blue Man Group and not Blue Men Group.)
For the drum-lover, whose favorite color is green, every show is different since the audience plays a major role throughout. Random spectators are selected to participate in the performance, producing an exciting interactive experience. And while it seems difficult enough to play just one of these blue men, Kittle is one of the few among the eight Las Vegas players who can perform as each of the three characters intermittently. Kittle says he only gets nervous before the most challenging scenes, like the one in which he catches marshmallows in his mouth—some of which he swallows.
A perfect match for the show, Kittle was nicknamed Captain Random as a child due to his spur-of-the-moment personality. For him, the most rewarding part of the evening is seeing the reactions of his fans and taking pictures with them—a continuation of the show’s message of togetherness.
For more information on Blue Man Group, visit www.blueman.com.
|Blue Man Food
Sophie Gayot: What is your favorite hometown restaurant?
Nicholas Kittle: Prickly Pear Café in Ann Arbor, MI. It's a Southwestern joint. I really love their sweet potato enchiladas.
SG: What is your favorite restaurant in Las Vegas?
SG: What is your favorite restaurant of these two cities?
NK: It is called Plan B Lounge and Eatery in Vancouver, BC. Located in the Yaletown district. It's got a killer atmosphere, appropriate for a date or just hanging with a few friends. The Qualicum Bay scallops are divine.
SG: Favorite ingredient?
SG: Favorite wine?
NK: I'm a Petite Sirah guy.