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August 16, 2013

Becoming Blue Man

What does it take to be in the strange, stunning stage spectacle?

Patrick Poulin alternates between sitting and standing in the lobby of Chicago’s Briar Street Theatre, nervously flipping back and forth through the pages of his application to join the Blue Man Group alongside dozens of other hopefuls who have come to audition for the theatrical spectacle.

“Anything that keeps me performing would be a blessing. ... If I can be onstage making people laugh or entertained, it would be a dream,” said Poulin, 25, who moved to Chicago from Boston to work in the city’s comedy scene and theaters. At 6-foot-1, Poulin meets the Blue Man Group’s requirement to be at least 5-foot-10, but no taller than 6-foot-2.

Blue Man Group started with three friends in New York more than two decades ago and has grown from an off-Broadway show to also have productions in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. A tour will soon take Blue Men to stops in cities like Atlantic City, N.J.; Durham, N.C.; Lincoln, Neb.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Portland, Maine; and Kennewick, Wash. And international versions of the percussive show — with its three tall, bald, blue actors — are going to Australia, Brazil and Germany. Blue Man Group is also featured on some Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

About 60 actors play Blue Men around the world, and producers are always looking for new performers. This summer, they have hosted auditions in Chicago and Las Vegas, and they plan more in New York in November.

In Chicago, the dozens who joined Poulin on the first day showcased their acting abilities and drumming experience, if any, with the Blue Man Group’s music director. Poulin admitted he’s rarely done any drumming.

“He kind of just let me follow some basic stuff he was doing,” Poulin said. “I didn’t go too far beyond that. I wasn’t going to try to embarrass myself.”

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