Blue Man Group, the trio of bald and blue characters known for playing PVC pipe instruments and beating paint-covered drums, also use strange and oddly specific amounts of food on stage.
“If there’s one thing that we have to keep a secret, it’s the bananas,” Blue Man Steven Wendt said in a recent interview.
And not just any bananas. Bananas of varying degrees of ripeness. Bananas that one crew member has to scour Publix for the day before the show.
Blue Man Group, which comes to the Koger Center on Friday, March 11, goes through 800 bananas a week on tour.
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They also use 32 pounds of Jello, 96 pieces of white chocolate Toblerone and 240 marshmallows, among other foodstuffs.
“Food for the Blue Man is a way to interact and share a moment with somebody. It’s not necessarily there for sustenance,” Wendt said.
The Blue Man is meant to be weird, homogenous and alien-like, meeting and interacting with humans for the first time using gestures and expressions in lieu of verbal communication.
Food for the Blue Man is a way to interact and share a moment with somebody. It’s not necessarily there for sustenance.
Blue Man Steven Wendt
Wendt has been a Blue Man for four years. The 30-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native performed in experimental theater and was a puppeteer for Cartoon Network before going bald and blue.
Founded in 1987 by original members Phil Stanton, Matt Goldman and Chris Wink, Blue Man Group has grown into an organization with five standing shows in the United States, one in Berlin and one on Norwegian Cruise Line, in addition to the tour trio with Wendt.
As Goldman put it, when “you strip away the hair, the skin tone, the gender, the ears, and have no particular style of clothing, what’s left? It’s really the rawest, purest form of what’s essentially human.”
If you think about it, food is a huge part of what it means to be human. We use food to celebrate milestones at birthdays and weddings. We associate it with fond childhood memories like the smell of sweets baking in the oven or tea parties with our dolls. We break bread and share meals to bond with others.
“It’s mostly there as a symbol of peace,” Wendt said.
“It can also be kind of dangerous.”
He wouldn’t elaborate further on the perils of doing who-knows-what with 240 marshmallows, adding, “I don’t want to give too much away.”
Food can be as complex as it is connective. Most of the food used in the show is highly processed.
“It didn’t just grow; usually, it’s just been handled so much, and the Blue Man can kind of feel that this is a manipulated object,” Wendt said. “And we have fun manipulating it more. We use it to find something deeper, and that’s dangerous business.”
Food by the numbers
During a week of performances, the Blue Man tour uses the following:
32 pounds of Jell-O
8 boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal
96 pieces of white chocolate Toblerone
800 mashed-up bananas
40 boxes of Twinkie Lights
If you go
Blue Man Group
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11
WHERE: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St.