Company manager Jack Stephens says: ‘People who attend will have an experience unlike any they have ever had in the theatre’
Blue Man Group has been described as indescribable since people began trying to … describe it in 1987. So naturally, with the show returning to Denver for the third time in four years, we asked Company Manager Jack Stephens to, of course … describe it.
“It is difficult to describe what the show is all about,” said Stephens, not surprisingly. “You really have to experience it.
“But I can say the people who attend will have an experience unlike any they have ever had in the theatre. They will laugh a lot. They will return to their childhood. They will experience joy and exuberance incarnate. And they will examine a few little quirky things about people and society society along the way, because the show likes to point out some of the absurdities of day-to-day living in cities.”
Hey, that’s a pretty good description.
Stephens grew up in Aurora. He was a member of Eaglecrest High School’s first graduating class in 1995, alongside big-shot Broadway actor Andy Kelso, currently starring in the Tony-winning Kinky Boots.
Stephens is beginning his second year as Company Manager for Blue Man Group, a high-octane theatrical experience that immerses audiences in the worlds of comedy, percussion and technology — without ever saying a single word.
“A lot of people look at the Blue Men and say, ‘So … are they aliens? Are they performance artists? What’s their deal?’ ” Stephens said. “But really they are not any of those things. They are meant to represent these three beings who are curious about life.”
There is a story being told — albeit nonverbally. It is a multimedia presentation. It has the atmosphere of a loud, live rock concert. There are no vocals. “It’s just a percussive, awesome sound,” Stephens said. “They are going to see all sorts of funny things like people catching marshmallows in their mouths, and toilet paper flying out into the audience in huge volumes. But mostly it’s about those three curious creatures who take the audience on a journey exploring life.”
As Company Manager, it is Stephens’ job to make sure Blue Man Group‘s national touring production runs efficiently. “Essentially the job involves dealing with everybody’s life on the road,” he said. “I make sure everyone gets paid. It also involves travel, transportation and housing.”
If that sounds a lot like herding cats – lovable blue cats in blue, bald caps – Stephens says his present assignment is actually pretty easy. “The people on this tour are really cool,” he said. “There is no drama. Everybody is really about making sure the show is good, and that’s all they ever really think about. They just don’t really have time to destroy hotel rooms. So they make my life really easy.”
Stephens’ family moved to Colorado from Cleveland when he was 10. He stayed through college at CU-Denver and then moved to Las Vegas. He has since worked regularly on touring theatrical productions such as Rent and Beauty and the Beast. But he attributes his entire professional career to what he learned at Eaglecrest High School.
“They had a triad of really good theatre teachers, and I am sure they still do,” said Stephens, citing Jennifer Condreay (a member of the Colorado Thespians Hall of Fame), Kerry Ross and Brianna Lindahl (now of Grandview High School.)
“I learned lighting, sound and video,” he said. “They were very good teachers of technical teacher, and you don’t find that very often. They pretty much let the kids have the run of the place, and we were able to make the shows our own.”
Stephens also remembers his classmate Kelso as “a really cool guy who stuck with it and made it big. I don’t think he ever let it go to his head.” Kelso will be returning to Denver to sing the national anthem at the Denver Broncos’ Thursday night football game on Oct. 23.
Blue Man Group is already Stephens’ 12th national tour.
“And when I went to college, I didn’t even study theatre, so I would say everything comes from what I learned in high school.”
Stephens grew up watching professional theatre at the Buell Theatre. He was there when it opened in 1991 with The Phantom of The Opera tour. To be returning there with a show he’s working on for only the second time, he said, should be awesome.
“It’s a very tangible way to say that I have achieved what I set out to achieve,” he said.
Blue Man Group
- October 10-12
- 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
- Buell Theatre
- Age recommendation: 4 and up