Lisa Condit spoke with Meridian from Blue Man Group about fun new performances in the show, styles of communication, studying improv and more! Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: Thank you all for listening today to Behind The Scenes at The Hanover Theatre! This is Lisa Condit and I am here with Meridian, one of the Blue Men in Blue Man Group, coming to The Hanover Theatre April 7 through April 10. Welcome, Meridian!
Meridian: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. Thanks for talking with me today.
Lisa: Well, it’s incredible for me because, as I was saying to you right before we started, none of you speak during the show so I feel like I’m breaking all the rules by talking to you now! It’s such a unique opportunity for us to find out what’s going on in your head as you’re doing all of these fun things on stage.
Meridian: Well, great! Let’s get into it. Happy to have the opportunity to speak for once!
Lisa: So, you have had the opportunity to travel all over the world as part of Blue Man Group and their touring production, so tell us a little bit about that. You know, some people may have seen Blue Man Group when it’s been in Boston. Here we are, in Worcester, and we’re about to see the tour. I have to say, one question we get all the time is “Are they really throwing things? Is the splash zone really the splash zone?” I know that we don’t want to say too many trade secrets, but it’s still an exciting and interactive show. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Meridian: Sure! Our show is as interactive as ever. We’ve taken a few precautions to keep ourselves and the audience safe given the times we live in, with COVID still lingering in the in the wings, so to speak. We’re still very much there with the audience, we come into the audience, we collect information from the audience and we make music out of it. It’s the Blue Man Group you’ve come to know and love, but with this tour, it’s a totally new version of it. Amongst a few of our greatest hits that we have in there is a whole lot of new material that you haven’t seen if you haven’t seen this tour, so don’t miss your chance.
Lisa: We won’t miss our chance! You’re selling really well. People are excited to see this show and part of that is because it’s so beloved and it’s so intriguing. The music is really upbeat and great, but there are no words. Tell us how you got into this and what are some of the challenges in this type of performance art, where it really is based on interactivity and effects? It’s beyond words, so I’m hoping that you can help us understand it.
Meridian: In your first question, you mentioned that we’ve had the opportunity to perform all over the world. I think the fact that we don’t speak does present us with some challenges in terms of not being able to communicate very specific things that we’re thinking, but the wonderful thing about nonverbal communication is that it’s universal. We’re all sort of programmed to be able to understand it. What we’ve found bringing the show everywhere all around the world is that people from different cultures who speak completely different languages are still able to connect with this character. Our biggest challenge is also one of our greatest strengths, I think, in terms of being able to find that connection with any audience, any age group and any culture.
Lisa: Absolutely! So, I’m interested to know, do different parts of the world and different cultures react differently to different parts of the show? Are there some parts that are really popular in one area that’s different from another area?
Meridian: I don’t know if I’ve noticed anything that specific. Maybe you’ll have an audience in some areas that are a little bit quieter than others. It doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying the show, it’s just perhaps a different way of expressing their enjoyment. Subtle differences like that, but overall, people are enjoying it so much, and that’s very clear in whatever reactions they give. It’s fun for us to get to learn about the different ways people respond to us as well.
Lisa: For sure. So, what has been the loudest crowd that you have performed for?
Meridian: That’s tough because there are wildly different sizes. We did a Fourth of July thing years ago that was supposedly for an audience of millions that either lived where we were or were in the televised audience. In terms of loudest, that’s tough to say. We had an audience just earlier this week that was wildly loud. By the end, something touches people in the show and makes them feel excited, happy and joyful.
People love the show, they love the music. There’s something about it that, from this mysterious beginning of the show where people don’t know who we are or what we’re about, we get through this hour and a half journey together.Meridian, Blue Man Group
Lisa: Just wait until you get back to Worcester. I promise you, we are going to be one of the most excited, happy, loudest enthusiastic crowds ever, Meridian! I’m also curious how you got started.
Meridian: I went to a graduate acting program called The National Theatre Conservatory. It was a funny coincidence, there were four previous graduates of that program who went on to become Blue Men. When I graduated, I sort of followed in their footsteps, auditioned and had to take some drumming lessons because I wasn’t a drummer to start out with. I came at it from my theater background and my acting background. Other people are more musical and they have to work on their acting skills a little bit. There’s a unique mix of talents in a Blue Man performer. Luckily, I have those gifts.
Lisa: Absolutely! Tell me a little bit about the other Blue Men in the group. What do you guys do for fun when you’re not drumming, performing and making people feel joyful?
Meridian: We like to explore the towns that we’re in. We’re in lovely Bloomington, Indiana right now and it’s a lovely town to walk around. One of us was just antique shopping yesterday. It’s funny because we’re all individual people with individual interests, and then you just find a way to explore with the location changing around you constantly.
Lisa: I think it sounds amazing!
Meridian: There are lots of opportunities to discover new things. Sometimes you crave a little more routine, but I think people who love touring like it for those very reasons. There’s always something new to experience.
Lisa: I bet. When you are in the different locations, and you’ve been in a lot of really cool places, what is the favorite part of the show that you love to bring to the different audiences? Is there one part in particular that you look forward to?
Meridian: There’s several! One of our classic pieces, the gumballs and marshmallows, just works so well. You can always feel in the audience when there’s new people seeing that for the first time. There’s a certain excitement and amazement that happens with the fact that we can catch things in our mouth being thrown from the other side of the stage. There’s just so much surprise and wonder, it really sets up and establishes that this character is interesting, fun and has some tricks up his sleeve. We have a new piece in this show, it is in some of our other shows, called ‘the match’. We’ve taken our old audience participation piece — the classic one with the Twinkies, where we had one guest — but this one will have two guests on stage with us so it just adds another unknown factor. It’s a lot of fun playing around with that with the two guests. We don’t know what they’re going to do, and they certainly have no idea what we’re expecting either. It’s a lot of fun.
Lisa: Talk about working on your improv skills! We have a Conservatory that’s part of our organization as well, and improv is one of those really great classes that we offer. It seems to be a good launch point for people of all ages to get into acting. Do you have any words of wisdom or anything you would tell our aspiring actors and performers?
Meridian: Enjoy it! It’s funny you say that, my very first experience with theatre was theatre games and improv class. Within five minutes of showing up to that course, I knew that it was the thing for me. Improv is a strange thing because it can be really intimidating to not have a script or defined path to follow. The freedom, creativity and the things that you can learn about how to tap in is something we use in our show all the time. Even if you’re not going to be in theatre, there’s so much you can just learn about your own mind and your own creative process by participating in a class like that. So, enjoy it and have fun.
Lisa: You touched on a key point there. Enjoy it. This is all meant to be fun. It is all meant to bring joy, happiness and laughter to all of us. It also seems like being able to perform as a Blue Man, without relying on language, is liberating. Again, we do have the Blue Man Group coming to The Hanover Theatre April 7 through 10. Big shoutout to Berkshire Bank, our proud corporate sponsor, that has really helped to make this possible for us here at The Hanover Theatre. We do have some great seats left and tickets are available on our website at TheHanoverTheatre.org. We would love to see everybody there, cheering Meridian on! Anything else you want to tell our listeners?
Meridian: If you haven’t seen Blue Man Group before, this is a great opportunity to see it for the first time. It’s a new show with lots of new things in it, but it’s not a sequel, so you don’t have to have seen another Blue Man show to understand this. We have plenty of great ways to introduce you to the characters. It’s a lot of fun, people are just leaping to their feet at the end of it. Come have fun with us, we’re ready to have fun with you!