Alumna infusing Blue Man Group with some red and white

October 10, 2013
By Chris Saunders

Anna Rains came to NC State thinking she wanted to study plant genetics. She even did some undergraduate research for a year thinking she had made the right decision. But she soon got restless and wanted to take some time to figure out what she really wanted to do.

bluemangirlDuring that time, Rains never got too down or “blue” about switching directions to become a business major in the Poole College of Management. That patience now affords her the chance to be blue almost every day.

Rains is the assistant stage manager for the world-famous Blue Man Group, a traveling troupe of performance artists who offer a unique theater experience with paint, drums and other props. She landed the gig in August after attending a conference having to do with jobs in the theater. She will stay on the road with the Blue Men until June 2014.

While in school at NC State, Rains got an internship in Manhattan, and it was there that her love of the theater began. “When I was up there, I got to see a lot of the theater shows,” she says. “My high school didn’t  even have a theater program, so it was more a later-in-life type of thing.”

So Rains focused on studying human resources back at Poole College. And she joined up with University Theatre on campus to start gaining experience in stage managing. “They were the most influential people during my time at State,” she says. “The wanted so much for their students to succeed. They were the ones who pushed me to attend the theater conference where I interviewed for this job.”

Now on the road full time, Rains helps with rolling in to a town and unloading for a show. She puts up house signs in venues’ lobbies. She coordinates the ushers. And during the show, she’ll actually make the calls as far as the lights and the music. She’s one of the 24 people who make the Blue Men come to life. That includes cast, musicians and crew.

With that small of a crew, Rains says it’s been an easy transition to the nomadic life of a stage manager. “We work together, live together and play together,” she says, laughing. “It’s very family-esque. Very dysfunctional family-esque, but in a cute sitcom type of way.”

Since August, the job has taken Rains to places she never got to see growing up. She says Tulsa was an interesting place to get to know. Her favorite stop has been Montreal.

And the job’s taught her that there’s actually a lot of red flowing in the Blue Man Group. It turns out one of the performers, Brian Tavener, who graduated from NC State in 2007, has been donning the blue paint since 2007.

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