Mark Frankel Takes On Seven Questions All About the Iconic Blue Man Group
February 13th, 2019
by Josh Ferri
Mark Frankel began studying the drums at age eight; he was a radio engineer, who formed the mobile audio recording company Village Sound; and in 2005, he became a Blue Man in the internationally renowned performance piece Blue Man Group. Now, Mark is the Blue Man Captain for the New York production. BroadwayBox caught up with him to hear a bit about the Blue Man transformation, his passion for performing, and bringing The Blue Man Group around the world.
1. What’s your pre-show process like from arriving through your transformation?
Call time for Blue Men is 90 minutes before the show. We head straight to the stage for soundcheck where we have a group production meeting, warm up, test the instruments, work on pieces that need attention, and maybe goof around a little. Then it’s time to begin the makeup, which is really sort of a ritual. As we apply the bald caps and blue paint, we listen to music, watch videos on YouTube, or review highlights of the previous night’s performance. It’s also a chance for us to just talk and, I have to say, it’s one of the best parts of my job being able to spend time with co-workers and discuss what is interesting to us on that particular day.
2. How has Blue Man Group changed in your time with the company?
Blue Man Group has grown into a global organization that has performed live in over 25 countries for over 35 million people. I’ve personally performed on four continents, and with each new audience, I get the sense they are more familiar with who we are and what we do. The show is constantly updating its technology and content in an effort to continuously connect with the audience in more culturally relevant ways. We continue to learn about who this character is, what drives him, and how he might interact with the world around him in new and unexpected ways.
3. Can you tell us about an audience interaction you’ve shared that you’ll never forget?
After 3000+ shows that I’ve personally done, and the close to 1,000,000 people I’ve performed in front of, it can be difficult to single out individual events. I’ve had many touching moments with unique individuals over the years. Perhaps the one that stays closest to my heart is performing for my mother in her home country of England. My mother emigrated from a town outside Liverpool when she was 19 and had a long Broadway career. Blue Man was on tour in England and she flew over to watch me perform and visit with family. It was a special moment of deep connection on many levels that I got to perform for her. I’ll never forget it.
4. What are three principals you want each new Blue Man training to always remember?
5. What’s the key to getting out of the blue quickly and thoroughly?
We use a special natural oil that breaks up both the blue greasepaint and the glue that we use to adhere the bald cap. Needless to say, we go through lots of oil and lots of towels. The trick is to talk and wipe at the same time, and you find you get really good at talking to people through a mirror. I’ve had a lot of practice, but I can go from full costume to regular guy in about ten minutes.
6. What was the experience that made you want to become a performer?
Well, I come from a drumming background more than an acting background. That’s the case for a small minority of Blue Men. So, it was the first time I heard someone play a set of drums in person. I was very young, about four, and I remember just listening to the cymbals, feeling the thud of the drums in my chest. I fell in love instantaneously. I’ve been playing drums ever since, and because I grew up in a family of performers, it was always an option to do it as a career. I’m very, very lucky to have had that kind of support.
7. What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment during your Blue Man tenure?
Without a doubt, performing at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, where I got to see my musical heroes perform as a kid. It’s one of the local sports arenas for the NYC area and to be able to stand on that stage, where my heroes stood, looking out on a packed crowd was an absolutely unforgettable experience. I got a peek into a rare perspective, and I just remember telling myself over and over again during the show, “remember this”. What a feeling!
See Mark Frankel in The Blue Man Group live at their historic downtown home at off-Broadway's Astor Place Theatre.