UCF alumnus Richard Cravens Jr. is living out his dream of entertaining. He’s doing it right here in Orlando, working for the Blue Man Group.
It took Cravens three attempts at choosing a major until he stumbled into psychology. First he tried a music degree. He was in many ensembles and the UCF Marching Knights band.
“I had a lot of good times with the Marching Knights, but I decided that I could pursue music without a music degree,” Cravens said.
While taking business classes, Cravens took his first psychology course and fell in love with it. He decided to change his major to psychology. After graduating from UCF in the spring of 1994, he went to graduate school at the University of Florida to continue studying psychology.
“What I originally thought I would do with my degree is teach on a collegiate level, maybe get my doctorate in research methods or something like that,” Cravens said.
He dropped out of UF because he had a full schedule being a student performer for Disney, playing in the UF Gator band and working a full-time job as a musician with Disney. Now Cravens works as a Blue Man and is also a percussion instructor at West Orange High School.
His Blue Man training took three months in New York. He said the training wasn’t just learning the show but learning the character and how to take off layers instead of adding layers.
“I’m basically stripping away the things that make me Richard,” Cravens said. “We talk about the concept of ego, those insecurities and those prejudices that go along with the everyday mask of a person in society. Being a Blue Man is about taking that mask off, and I think that concept is hardest to grasp for people who are training to become Blue Men, the idea of leaving everything else behind.”
Cravens said motivation is not something that is necessary for him to keep performing every night. He said that Blue Man Group is not like theater production where the same lines are delivered every night; instead, it involves a lot of improvisation. What happens on stage depends on the performers that are on stage that night, he said. The audience never sees the same show twice. “It’s an unscripted, scripted show,” said Joe Chabus, a public relations representative for Blue Man Group.
“My favorite part of being a Blue Man is having the power that the musical pieces bring to the show,” Cravens said. “Seeing how the music transforms people in the audience. The journey the audience takes and the uncertainty and unknowing of what will happen at the show that night.”
Cravens said he likes the idea of being in a show that doesn’t travel so that he can go home to his family every night. “I get to bring back what [the Blue Man Group] do to Orlando,” he said. Beyond the physical and mental stress of his job, Cravens said he sees himself remaining in the entertainment industry.
“I am always going to be a performer and when I’m done performing, I am going to be teaching,” he said.
Blue Man Group was created in 1988 by three friends named Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. Their certified-Gold debut album, Audio, was nominated for a Grammy in 1999, according to Chabus. Blue Man Group has been involved in such projects like the animated movie Robots, Space Chimps and TV shows such as Arrested Development, The Simpsons and Scrubs.
Source: Central Florida Future, by Lea Anne Crittenden; Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010, updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2010