“Forget about what you think a Blue Man does,” says casting director Tim Aumiller. “Try to be as authentic as you can.” About a dozen potential Blue Men are seated against a wall—all naturally hued, at least for now. Aumiller guides them through two silent acting exercises, the first of which requires each to stand solo and hold eye contact with every person in the room. “Too short and it’s meaningless,” he tells them. “If you’re thinking this is awkward, you’re probably on the right path.”
Awkward is just a part of the process backstage in Monte Carlo’s Blue Man Group Theater. Prior to the eyes-only acting experiment, 75 hopefuls went through one-on-one interviews and were measured for the Blue Man body type: male or female, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-2, “with an athletic build.” Those who have made it to this point have a shot to join the colorful production here or in Orlando, Boston or Chicago. But first, they have more to prove to the Blue Man production staff.
Rahhal, one of seven Blue Men in the Las Vegas cast, is on hand to help run the auditions. He’s been with the show since 1998, when he started in New York. So he knows a thing or two about how tough it is to earn the makeup. “This is not an easy character to play,” Rahhal says.
The biggest challenge is communicating emotion and experience with only body language and facial expressions—to execute a proper “smize,” as Tyra Banks would say. “Sometimes it’s about us seeing a person who is capable of playing within the vocabulary of the character,” Rahhal says. “It’s a process. All we’re really looking for today is a tiny spark.”
One man hoping to ignite it is 28-year-old Sean Stuart. He moved to Las Vegas in April after two years performing on cruise ships, and already he’s tried out for—and been rejected by—multiple productions. “I accidentally auditioned for Puppetry of the Penis my first week here,” he laughs. (It was your typical show-up-to-be-a-stagehand, end-up-handling-your-junk kind of story.)
Stuart has never seen a Blue Man Group performance, but as he learned in the acting audition, that could be to his benefit. For this College of Southern Nevada student with a background in dance, a role in the show would mean financial and artistic freedom. “Right now I just have a couple of part-time jobs,” he says. “But I’m a performer.” Besides, “How awesome would it be to live here a month and get cast in a show?”
Stuart and a few dozen others continue on to the drumming auditions. These take place in the actual theater—where the Blue Men perform 11 shows a week—and many a hopeful drops his jaw en route to the stage. There they meet music director Todd Waetzig, who hands them two drumsticks and leads them through eight-counts, 16-counts and accent beats.
Waetzig is patient with Stuart, even after he nervously hits both of his sticks together. “I haven’t played drums since junior high!” Stuart says afterward. “It was really stressful, but Todd was really cool.”
More than standout rhythmic skill, Waetzig is looking for someone who plays well with others (there’s no “I” in Blue Man Group for a reason). And Rahhal says that if a candidate nails the acting but struggles with the drums, the crew will “go the extra mile” to help him or her enroll in drum lessons.
Right now, though, that’s a long way off. It’s noon, and Stuart has completed all of the day’s auditions. Up next: the waiting game. Waetzig informed Stuart that if he made it through this preliminary round and on to the next, he’ll receive a phone call at 8 p.m. “I have to work at 7 tonight,” Stuart says. “I asked them to please leave a voicemail!”
UPDATE: Stuart did receive a call back but was cut after the next day’s audition.