Brian Tavener ‘04 did something very unusual for an NC State alumnus: he turned blue.
Tavener has been a member of the Blue Man Group, an international spectacle in which three people dress in bald caps, blue black costumes and makeup, for more than six years. Blue Man Group performances are regularly seen across the country and around the world. Tavener has spent most of his time performing in Boston.
Tavener said it’s difficult to explain what it’s like to be a part of a Blue Man Group show, from the perspective of the performers or the audience.
“It is a playground for all of your senses,” Tavener said. “The whole theatre of people comes alive during this show, and there is a heightened awareness of the audience around you – the community you are experiencing. As performers, it is our job to portray this brilliantly diverse character with our own essence, injecting a personality into the character that comes from a deeper, more intimate place.”
Tavener said the audience members have a “constantly-evolving relationship with each performer” during a Blue Man Group show.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve made 1500 best friends by the time the show is over,” he said.
After graduating from NC State with a degree in communication, Tavener’s future as an artist was still unclear. He said that during the first few years after college, his music career was “slow going.”
But in 2007 Tavener decided to take a chance.
“I put an audition package together for both Cirque Du Soleil (to be a musician) and Blue Man Group,” he said. “I figured, what is there to lose? I heard back from Blue Man in two weeks, and they wanted to set up a by-appointment audition.”
He then took a trip to Los Angeles, had a successful audition and was asked back for a second audition in New York.
“This is when I first got to see myself “bald and blue,” Tavener said. “It was a little unnerving, the first time I got into costume.”
Tavener said that despite his nerves, he trusted that everything would be okay. If he wasn’t given the job, he said he would just “go back to the drawing board.”
”Luckily, they liked my Blue Man,” he said.
He was selected to join the group, and the years of yearning to be able to perform on a stage were realized.
Tavener knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a performer on stage. He said really started to become assured of it when he witnessed his brother, who Tavener said was his number one role model, performing theatre while in high school.
Tavener followed his brother’s lead, as he said he did in almost everything.
“He also attended NCSU and was a senior there when I was a freshman, so I even followed him to college,” Tavener said.
Tavener began his career at NC State in the year 2000, after being awarded a Park Scholarship for his achievements. Among many other accomplishments, his high school resume included being named the Most Outstanding Leadership/Service Student, a member of the National Honor Society and being the student body president of his high school, according to an NC State press release from that year.
“Being a Park Scholar at NC State was definitely a huge stepping stone in my career as a performer in the Blue Man Group,” Tavener said. “The Park Scholarship program not only presented me with unique opportunities in college, but introduced me to some of the most influential peers and mentors of my life. It was the network of amazing people the scholarship had to offer that started me on the road to being a successful performer.”
In addition to being a Blue Man, Tavener also owns his own record label, called Carrot Policeman Records, and creates his own music when he isn’t donning the blue makeup. He said that this project gives him the opportunity to make music without having to worry about money from outside sources.
“I started CP Records to have a unique and completely self-operated brand,” he said. “This is because, at this point in my music career, it is about the art more than the commerce. The art is made simply to be just that, not bring in any profits or be toured around the globe.”
Tavener said that through his label he has had the opportunity to “paint pictures with music,” and has even had the opportunity to work with his old bandmates from Raleigh, Taylor Roberts and Mark Nippert.
“I’m happy to be able to have music as a personal expression, and continue to explore this realm further while hoping to maintain my own musical identity,” Tavener said.
Tavener said any student that is thinking about pursuing a career in entertainment should remember that goals are important, but so is the path and the process of what is happening in that moment.
“It’s about staying in the moment, enjoying the challenges as much as the successes,” he said. “With pursuing a career as an entertainer, this is of utmost importance. The only way to entertain is to come from a genuine place. And the only way to be genuine is to constantly be of the moment.”
Story by Jason Katz