By Connor Dziawura
Adam Zuick calls trying out for the Blue Man Group “one of the weirdest auditions a person can probably go through.”
When he was given a shot at joining the long-running performance act after moving from Arizona to New York more than half a decade ago, Zuick was tasked with acting out a child’s first day of school.
But there was a catch.
Being fit to adopt the “stoic” Blue Man persona primarily comes down to silent expression, he says.
“It’s very different than any other audition,” says Zuick, who attended the Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics as well as Paradise Valley Community College, and whose first professional job was in “Grease” at the Arizona Broadway Theatre.
“You don’t need to prepare a monologue or a song or anything like that. You come in just ready to go with the flow and work with the directors and whoever else is in the room and figure out if you’re right for the role.”
During these “strange” auditions, hopefuls like Zuick once was are tasked with expressing emotion using their faces, more specifically their eyes.
It’s about “getting them to a place where people can look at them and see the emotion that they’re taking on and live through that and have it be real,” he explains. “That’s the goal of the auditions.”
Zuick joined the Blue Man Group in 2013.
Now on the fittingly titled Speechless Tour, he and his crew in blue will perform five shows at ASU Gammage from Friday, November 15, to Sunday, November 17.
Zuick calls it a new show.
“A lot of the stuff that we put on stage for this brand-new tour had never been done, even within our company. We didn’t have the technology to put it up in a rehearsal space before the tour started,” he says, adding:
“It’s been a really crazy experience being a part of the first group to work through these numbers and see what’s going to work and what isn’t going to work and the technology that we put into the show.”
This time around the Blue Man Group has new instruments and songs, with a more expansive set and more audience interaction, according to Zuick. But the show also has a different feel in general.
“The main thing that you can kind of grab on to as the difference between the two shows is the original show is very much a thing where the Blue Men have been dropped into the audience’s world,” he says, describing it as the performers being in an unfamiliar place where they try to impress the audience.
He adds, “This version of the show is very much the audience got dropped into our space. It’s our workshop, it’s where we create our music, it’s where we create our instruments and where we jam with the band.”
Rehearsals have been extensive, Zuick says. And the cast and crew aren’t bound to one set routine, like in past shows. Adjustments are made to continuously elevate the performances.
But in addition to the music’s use of original instruments, Zuick says having that freedom to make changes is among the most complicated aspects of the show, because the cast and crew must learn when to let certain details go.
“We’ve really gotten to a good place where—we’ve been excited about the show from the beginning—it just keeps getting better and better as we get more and more experience with the show and with the audiences and what’s working and what isn’t,” Zuick says. “We’re in a really good place right now. We’re super excited to keep going with the show.”
With Zuick now six years into his role with the Blue Man Group, which itself has been running for more than three decades, he feels the longstanding appeal is manifold.
“I think it’s the connection that is made. I think it’s the weirdness. I think it’s the fun, the childlike nature of the show and the character,” he explains. “I think it just inspires people to feel OK being weird or feel OK dancing in their seats or having a connection with an audience member that’s next to them. It’s so real and inspiring. I think it reminds people that having fun is OK, instead of something that they should like hide. It lets people let go of their ego for a little bit and kind of just enjoy whatever is happening on stage.
“I think the best part of Blue Man Group is that there isn’t a storyline that’s just thrown at you. There are no lines in the show. There’s no spoken word from the Blue Men. Each person gets to interpret it however they want. It’s almost like a pick-your-own-adventure storybook, where you get to experience it how you want to experience it. And if watching the show inspires you to stand up and shake your butt in front of people, then some people are going to do that, and other people might be different.
“That’s the great part about the show, is that it inspires people to do different things. But I think the main thing it inspires people to do is to have fun and enjoy the time that they have there to just live.”
Blue Man Group, ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Drive, Tempe, 480.965.3434, asugammage.com/shows-events/blue-man-group, various dates and times Friday, November 15, to Sunday, November 17, $30-$125