BLUE MAN GROUP

BLUE MAN GROUP

By Gary Murray

Starring Kalen Allmandinger, Mike Brown, Patrick Newton, Michael Rahhal, Scott Speiser, Brian Tavener Steven Wendt and Adam Zuick

Created, written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink

Before the showing of Blue Man there is a quote.  If you would like to establish connections with people from another culture, it’s always good to offer a few gifts as a gesture of friendship.  But the best way to forge a listing bond is to create something together.  Whether it’s a meal, an art project or just a spontaneous dance party, when you create with others you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.  That is exactly what is going to happen.  We as a collective audience are going to be a part of an art experiment.

Blue Man Group has been around since the 1980’s and has been stunning audiences for just as long.  The original group of Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton ad Chris Wink has grown into a multimillion dollar industry with dozens of performers.  The avant-garde group has permanent homes in Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago and other cities throughout the world.  The latest touring edition takes over the boards of the AT&T Performing Arts Center as a part of the Lexus Broadway Series.

The show starts with moving lights welcoming everyone to the show and pointing out certain celebrities in the audience.  The unseen narrator gets the audience to speak “Happy Birthday” to one member.  It is a cleaver little bit of warm-up to get the excited audience even more in the mood for a stunning night of entertainment. 

The three actors come out in matching black outfits and painted blue faces.  The symmetry obtained by the three actors give the work a feeling of otherworld-ness; as if we are watching aliens make sense of our world.  They are images in silhouette as the show begins.   The experience of Blue Man Group is more a series of linking vignettes rather than a structured play.  There is a projection screen that fills the background that shows such things as a double helix.

The Blue Man Group does two different paintings and one sculpture during the show.  One of the Blue Men throws paintballs in the mouth of another.  The catcher of the group spits and sprays the paint on a canvas. eventually making different patterns on the cloth.  The other catches marshmallows in his mouth and eventually forms a small statue with the food.  He puts a price tag of $5.000 on the work of art. 

At one point, the three men dine on very large boxes of Capn Crunch, devouring the cereal as if they have never seen a toasted sugary breakfast treat before. It is silly and charming at the same time.

Later in the program, the three men pick an audience member to come on stage.  They cover him in giant overalls and take him backstage.  A group of technicians cover the man in blue paint and push him against a life-size canvass, using his body as a brush.  Then they frame the body in pink paint.  I believe the entire exercise is a Texas switch, where no one I actually painted backstage. It is an experiment in art that is on a grand scale. 

The show is pantomime, with no words spoken to the audience by the three members of the troupe.  Things are explained more by the unseen narrator than by the participants on stage.  They are backed by a percussive band that is in the background on risers.  Our main focus is always on the three blue men and not the help.

At one point, the trio of blue men goes out into the audience.  Taking a person from the audience on stage, they all eat a Twinkie.  It is done more to show the unusual nature of doing a simple task and it is a hilarious measure of how the mundane can be fascinating.  They wiggle the Twinkie as it is a living being.

They play a giant tube xylophone playing such different snippets such as “Whip-it” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.  Someone in the audience yells out “Free bird” and the band plays a guitar solo.

In one scene, a giant ‘GiPad’ drops from the upper reaches of the stage, showing how our fascination with technology melds with our curiosity.  Of course we get the drumming on plumbing fixtures and beating of paint filled drums, both staples of the original Blue Man Group show.  With all the modern touches, it is fitting that one segment is “Modern Plumbing.”

The show ends with giant balls bouncing through he audience.  By then, the entire crowd is on their feet, dancing to the rhythms of the machine.  It is part techno-concert and part Jimmy Buffett style beach-ball party.  Confetti and streamers fly from the upper rafters and onto the moving throng of disciples.   Then after the show, Blue Man Group took selfies of the audience.  It becomes a bonding moment between the act and the audience

This is the second time I’ve seen Blue Man Group and it is basically the same show. But, whether it is the second or twenty-second time one sees it, it is still a fascinating ride. The Blue Man Group is part rock concert, part comedy show and one of the most unusual experiences one will see in a theater setting.    The biggest problem with the show is that it is too short.  It ends in just less than two hours, making the audience wanting more.  This is they kind of show one wants to experience again and again.  Do not miss the chance to see such a wondrous performance.  This is a show that the entire family can and will enjoy—something not to be missed under any circumstance.

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