When you go blue, it's all you want to do.
View a photo slideshow of the Blue Man Group on tour.
On and off for 10 years, Russell Rinker has worked for Blue Man Group.
"I thought I'd do it for a year, but when you get into it, the job is great, the people are great, the experience is great," he says. "That makes it kind of tough to leave."
One of about 60 Blue Men worldwide, Rinker loves what he does.
"I gotta say we all feel pretty fortunate to be doing this," he says. "To be in a job where you get to make a mess and make people have a good time is the best."
The Blue Man Group will appear two nights, May 13 and 14, at the Johnny Mercer Theatre.
Blue Man Group is an organization founded in 1987 by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Savannah native Phil Stanton. The original Blue Men portrayed themselves as the leader, the scientist and the trickster, and all Blue Man Groups repeat that pattern today in stage versions and traveling tours.
Born and raised in Virginia, Russell was a theater and English major at the College of William and Mary. Also a percussionist and classically trained pianist and singer, he did regional theater and Shakespeare festivals and worked as a musician after graduation.
When the opportunity to audition for the Blue Man job came, Rinker had a unique skill set to offer.
"It's interesting that the performers have a variety of different backgrounds," he says.
"There are drummers who have never acted, actors who have never drummed. I have a pretty good mix and felt I was pretty well-suited for the job."
Often, Rinker is asked the same questions - Can the Blue Men speak? What are the Blue Men, exactly? - and answers honestly that no one knows.
"I can't put my finger on everything that's going on here," Rinker says. "The Blue Men are kind of human, but they're kind of not.
"People watch and laugh, but they don't understand the entire motivation behind what the Blue Men are doing and why that one is taking marshmallows and throwing them, or using Captain Crunch to make music," he says. "A lot of that is up in the air, but one thing is that people love to see it and they come to watch these weird beings."
The Blue Man Group is beloved the world over.
"The Blue Man sees our world differently, so the audience likes to watch and explore things they are familiar with through the Blue Man's eyes," Rinker says.
"People ask if the Blue Man can talk. The answer is, he doesn't need to. It's amazing how much we can communicate without speaking.
"We learn a lot about that at our meet-and-greets after the show," he says. "We can definitely communicate anything we need to say without talking."
Universal body language closes cultural gaps.
"The storytelling aspect comes across because no language is used," Rinker says.
There are several steps involved to physically become a Blue Man.
"I wear a latex bald cap that covers my hair and ears," Rinker says.
"Blue grease paint goes on after that. It is messy and it never dries.
"It will get on everything and it does," he says. "When I wake up in the morning, there are little blue things in the corners of my eyes."
The training process used to develop a Blue Man is very thorough and requires the three to think as one. "It's like juggling," Rinker says. "We start out with one ball.
"The Blue Man moves in a certain way. You have a character, but you also have to play music and also be in the right spot.
"It's definitely the toughest job that I've ever had," he says. "It's physically demanding and emotionally challenging."
In addition to all the physical requirements, Rinker must be open and vulnerable, yet mentally focused on the game.
"And you have to do it all by breathing only through your nose," he says.
What makes all the effort worthwhile are the audience reactions when people get caught up in the experience. "We aspire to be more than a show," Rinker says.
"We try to get people to connect. It's nice when we have little kids who are so thrilled to see and meet you, but then you see that same childlike sparkle in the eyes of adults.
"When adults feel the same way, they're forgetting about all the stresses of life and having a blissful experience and having a great connection that is really rewarding," Rinker says. "It doesn't happen much in life."
The show in Savannah will combine old and new Blue Man bits.
"The tours before were like rock concerts," Rinker says. "This is one of the best productions we've ever made.
"It is a combination of the intimacy of our theater shows with the kind of big spectacle of the rock concerts," he says. "In the middle, it has classic Blue Man bits, but also has a lot of new material that anyone who has seen the show before will not have seen."
IF YOU GO
What: Jam Theatricals & Broadway in Savannah present Blue Man Group
When: 7:30 p.m. May 13-14
Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.
Cost: $37.50 to $65