Blue Man Group Fans Celebrate 25 Years of Performances

Fans from around the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Blue Man Group on Nov. 17 by beating drums, playing eccentric plastic musical instruments and catching marshmallows in their mouths – all hallmarks of Blue Man performances.

Blue Man Fans played PVC instruments, facility of the Blue Man Show, with the group’s co-founder Chris Wink. (The Ink/Kawala Xie)

The celebration at the New York-based group’s training facility on the Lower East Side also included a chance to share stories with Blue Man’s three co-founders, Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton.

From left to right, the three co-founders of the Blue Man Group and the Original Blue Man, Chris Wink, Phil Stanton, and Matt Goldman. (Blue Man Group)
From left to right, the three co-founders of the Blue Man Group are Chris Wink, Phil Stanton, and Matt Goldman. (Photo courtesy of Blue Man Group)

Since its founding in 1991, the show’s combination of music, comedy and performance technology has attracted an audience of 35 million people in more than 20 countries.

Around 30 fans celebrated at the Blue Man Group’s studio at 412 Broadway. They talked about their first experiences watching the Blue Man show and how it impacted their lives.

Joe Burke, 36, a free-lance graphic designer from Orlando, Fla., described the Blue Man Group as very “grassroots” and said the show enables everybody to “explore the inner child.”

“Blue Man is the every man,” Burke said. “It represents humanity in a whole. That’s the beautiful thing about it.”

Burke suffers from hemophilia, a bleeding disorder. He met his wife, Alex Burke, a nurse, when the Blue Man show opened at Universal Studios in Orlando in July 2008. Both are Blue Man fans and Burke said they fell in love at the first sight.

“I was able to find an internal healing through the show,” he said. He and his wife have watched over 200 Blue Man shows since 2001. And they have both worked for the Blue Man Group’s company during its 2008 Megastar Tour as organizers on the stage during fan gatherings.

Burke isn’t the only one who found companionship because of Blue Man. Hans Swaerdens, 52, a Dutch ground engineer for KLM, and Angelique Hildebrandt, 22, a German housekeeper, became friends through managing the Blue Man Group Fans Facebook page, the official international fan page for the group.

Swaerdens and Hildebrandt collected stories from Blue Man Group’s fans from across the world and incorporated them in a book, which they sent to the group’s three co-founders for the anniversary event.

Blue Man fans sent gifts to the co-founders during the gathering. (The Ink/Kawala Xie)

“Hearing your stories it’s so inspiring,” said co-founder Goldman, 46. “I was so honored to be in any part of having inspired different people’s lives and friendships.”

Wink, 55, another co-founder of the group, said he was “overwhelmed.”

“It isn’t just the show; it’s the things that are going on in someone’s life,” he said. “And because of whatever that was, the show meant more. You make it more meaningful to you. We get it back when we saw you guys.”

Although the three original Blue Men stopped performing in 2011, Wink caught over 30 marshmallows at the event to show fans how it’s done.

Chris Wink, co-founder of the Blue Man Group, caught marshmallows. (The Ink/Kawala Xie)

“It’s really just about human connection,” said Wink. “That’s what the Blue Man is doing. He’s like a bit of an outsider, like an alien. But he’s also a bit of human. When people look at him, they see him a little different. They also see themselves in the character.”

The fan gathering is part of a series of events that Blue Man Group has planned to celebrate a quarter century of performances. The first show was at the Astor Place Theatre, which then became the group’s home base. The city declared Nov. 17 as “Blue Man Group Day” and it temporarily renamed Astor Place “Blue Man Way.” Celebrations were also planned in other major cities. The Blue Man now has permanent theatrical productions in Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston, Chicago, New York and Berlin as well as North American and world tours.

But New York still is home, Wink said. “This is where we all started,” he said. “We are from here.” He said that the company is working on creating new characters and including more changes in the show.