Lucky for Poulin, it turns out that while drumming is a major part of Blue Man Group productions, actually being a good drummer isn’t crucial for auditions.
“It’s really about the character coming out through drumming,” said Jeff Quay, who is associate music director for Blue Man Group and ran the music section of the Chicago auditions. “Rarely am I looking for good technique, just a guy who can take direction well, but has good listening skills.”
Blue Man Group staff members give the applicants an initial grade. While about 77 hopefuls showed up for open casting in Chicago, less than half made it to callbacks the next day.
Another hopeful in Chicago was Dan Plehal, 25, from Chicago, who went to graduate school for theater and comes from a family of artists. Plehal and Poulin both made it through the first round of auditions.
“I think I scraped by yesterday by the skin of my teeth,” Plehal said the day of callbacks, when the actors who made the cut performed in groups for a panel of Blue Man Group staff.
Collin Batten is currently one of the Blue Men in Chicago and was one of the staff members assessing the applicants. He says callbacks are “where it gets a little bit more meatier, more detailed.”
Batten said callbacks give the Blue Man Group a chance to see an actor’s personality, how they interact with others and if they can take direction.
“The greater goal is to create a transcending experience for people,” Batten said.
An undetermined amount of people will be picked, but they will not necessarily be staying in Chicago. Once chosen, depending on their skill level, new members will have to learn the drumming for the show, as well as the acting. Quay said this process can take months.