New Blue Man Group Drummer Describes Brutal Audition Process ... Is Being Blue a High-Dollar Gig?

Vistalite Black

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Drum Roll, Please: Green Bay woman steps into limelight, joining Blue Man Group World Tour 2022

From CBS Green Bay (with video)


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Born in Milwaukee and raised in Green Bay, this small-town Wisconsin native is stepping onto the world stage and into the limelight.

At only 21 years old, Mackenna Tolfa’s dream is being realized as she prepares to join the Blue Man Group World Tour as their featured female percussionist, also known as the role of the “DJ”.

This is my dream. This has been what I have been wanting since I started school and even before that.”
MACKENNA TOLFA
First introduced to playing the drums when she was little, Tolfa says it was love at first sight. “When I was younger my uncle, who is from Milwaukee and is German, and I, would play polka music together… And so, I just fell in love with it and wanted to continue to pursue it further.”


And Tolfa would do just that. Playing percussion all through her middle and high school years, this Preble High School alum says a large part of her success so far is thanks to Preble staff, faculty, and students.

A huge part of this whole journey happening is definitely because of the music program at Preble and the teachers there. I had a really great experience with the teachers and the students and they really became family… I wanted to continue doing this whole thing because of the education I got there and the relationships I created

After graduating from Preble in 2018, Tolfa would go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance for Percussion at the University of Minnesota. It would be here that Tolfa would enroll in the university’s Percussion Studio and meet another individual who has been integral in her musical journey thus far.

University of Minnesota’s Percussion Studio Associate Professor, Fernando Meza, not only helped guide and strengthen Tolfa’s skills in playing percussion through college, but he also helped her network and make connections within the world of Broadway.

It would be through these connections, that Tolfa would get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to audition for a spot on the 2022 Blue Man Group World Tour.


Tolfa recalls the moment she was informed that she had secured an initial audition for a spot on the tour, she was on vacation in Southern Spain with her college roommate and their family.

I was vacationing in Southern Spain with my college roommate and her family when I got the call that I had an audition…Where we were staying was kind of like a desert, with only like 400 people in the city.”
And while Southern Spain was a perfect vacation destination, it also presented Tolfa with some unforeseen challenges during her first virtual audition. For the audition, Tolfa was tasked to submit a video of her replicating a song, which was chosen by the Blue Man Group company, that had no notated music.

To make things more challenging, she only had 12 hours to send in her audition tape.

As time ticked down, Tolfa says she and her host family began to scower Southern Spain for a music store that was opened and would let her use their equipment.

My roommate’s family was on the phone with all of these music stores way outside of the city, like an hour and a half away…We eventually found a place and drove like three hours there.”

Finally arriving at the music store, Tolfa had just under four hours remaining to get acquainted with the unfamiliar drumset and begin working on replicating the song.

I wasn’t playing with my own set in Spain. I rented this drumset that was nearly falling apart from the store. I had no idea what I was going to be dealing with but this was the only place I could play.”

Yet, these obstacles wouldn’t get in the way of her dream. Tolfa would successfully complete and submit her audition video, and just over a week later, she was notified that she would be advancing to the second round of auditions in New York City.

While the first round had already put Tolfa’s skills to the test, the second round of auditions would be no different.


And so, walking into that New York room filled with complete strangers waiting to judge her performance, which she wasn’t allowed to prepare for beforehand, was something out of a nightmare for Tolfa.

But just like the first audition, she would rise to the occasion.

“When I got to this [the second] audition I stood outside of the theater for a couple of seconds waiting to go in and I was like ‘this opportunity is so absolutely incredible and rare and who knows if you’ll ever get it again’ and I kind of just held on to that thought when I walked in there and I was able to have a lot of fun and that was the goal more than anything; being able to walk out and feel like I gave it everything I had,” shares Tolfa.

And Tolfa must have given it everything she had because shortly after the audition, the Blue Man Group company called Tolfa to inform her that she and another contestant had made it to the final round of auditions, which would be taking place the following day.

Arriving at the third and final audition, Tolfa recalls that it resembled the second one.

They [Blue Man Group] wanted to see if I was able to be in character while I played, so, they asked me to do some pretty weird stuff like ‘okay, so I want you to focus on this spot on the wall and when you focus on that spot I want you to think of the absolute worst thing that’s ever happened to you and portray that emotion with what you’re doing with your body’ and we’d look at another spot and it’d have to be a different character essentially. So, there was a lot more of an acting element.”
Within an hour of completing the final audition, Tolfa’s dream became reality as she was informed she got the role of DJ for the 2022 Blue Man Group World Tour.


And she wouldn’t even have time to find those words, within 20 minutes of receiving that phone call, Tolfa reported to rehearsals.

Rehearsals in New York lasted for one week and then Tolfa was able to return home and continue practicing via Zoom.

Continuing to practice a minimum of four hours every day, on top of completing her school work and finishing her degree, Tolfa’s days are largely made up of music and learning, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.


The first stop of the 2022 Blue Man Group World Tour will be Japan. After that, the group will continue along the pacific coast visiting several different countries including South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia.

Unfortunately, as of right now, the tour will not be making its way to the U.S.

Drum Roll, Please: Green Bay woman steps into limelight, joining Blue Man Group World Tour 2022 | WFRV Local 5 - Green Bay, Appleton (wearegreenbay.com)
 

cworrick

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Blue Man (chicago) did a clinic at PASIC a few years ago. Talk about special! Every clinician gets 1 hour. Period. THEY GOT TWO!!!!
It consisted of the current three "blue" men and their drum set player.

They talked about everything with the show and the audition process. It is pretty much as she described it. Intense and unpreparable. This is because every show is just a little different depending on the audience and the audience interaction. The "men" were long timers with the show and they said it's the unpredictability and that no two shows are ever exactly the same that keeps them interested.


The next year they brought the whole Blue Man show to PASIC for the giant evening concert. (I couldn't go due to schedule conflict :crybaby::binky: )
I heard about this detail afterwards :banghead:
Immediately after they were done performing they did something that had NEVER been done at a Blue Man Show..... They took towels to their faces and removed the makeup and said "let's talk"!!!!!!!!! :blob2:
 

musiqman

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I auditioned for Mayumana and didn’t make it after the dance audition.

A buddy of mine is a high profile BM-er and loves relocating for them with his family every now and then.
 

Drumbumcrumb

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I auditioned for Mayumana and didn’t make it after the dance audition.

A buddy of mine is a high profile BM-er and loves relocating for them with his family every now and then.

Wait, do you mean he’s a Blue Man and moves for his work? Or do you mean he’s like a “Bluehead” fan and moves to where they’re located?
 

KevinD

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Great opportunity for someone, and congratulations to her!
But yeah the article is a little short on the details regarding the "brutal" part. I would be curious as to what songs or other requirements were part oft he first two auditions.

If anything, just the fact that she made the effort to interrupt her vacation to find a drum set in Spain and go through all that (on short notice) must have made a favorable impression on the adjudicators for the 1st round.

I think it would be a fun process either way.

Wasn't there someone here on the forum a few years ago that had gone pretty deep into the audition process (maybe landed a spot? )
 

CAMDRUMS

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I’m sure it pays good but nothing that will make you rich, at least the non-touring version. I know a guy in the BMG band in Boston who also tended bar. Another one who gave lessons and I think taught part time at Berklee.
 

drums1225

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The next year they brought the whole Blue Man show to PASIC for the giant evening concert. (I couldn't go due to schedule conflict :crybaby::binky: )
I heard about this detail afterwards :banghead:
Immediately after they were done performing they did something that had NEVER been done at a Blue Man Show..... They took towels to their faces and removed the makeup and said "let's talk"!!!!!!!!! :blob2:

Wait, that's MAKEUP? I've seen the show twice, and here I am thinking those were ACTUAL Blue Men. So disappointing.
 

tnsquint

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When I looked into it, the first part of the audition was actually mime acting. “Depict __________ only using body language and minimal facial expressions”, then some improv demonstrations. If you made it through that part, then they investigated your musical ability. Their thought was the acting part was more difficult to teach than the musicianship assuming anyone auditioning was already a respectable musician.
 

cworrick

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I failed the height requirement (yes, there is one!)


DITTO!!! Both in Chicago & Las Vegas.

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