Blue Man Group Begins Playhouse Square Stand with a Bang

click to enlarge Blue Man Group Begins Playhouse Square Stand with a Bang
Courtesy of Playhouse Square
You’d think that after close to 25 years, the world would have moved past Blue Man Group, the theater and rock concert hybrid that features three earless alien-like men with blue faces hammering away at percussion instruments made out of PVC pipe, splattering paint on blank canvases and using high-tech lights and sound to create something that could loosely be called performance art.

But it’s more like the world has just caught up with Blue Man Group.

Last night as the ensemble delivered the first of five shows before a capacity crowd at Connor Palace, the group proved that its mix of theater, performance art and music hasn’t lost its edge, even if the technology (video displays, portable cameras that extend into the audience) no longer seems so advanced. 

After making audience members take an “electronic devices oath” and promise to stay off their cell phones for the performance, the guys made their entrance behind a giant scrim. Much like a rock concert, a Blue Man Group performance thrives on excess. With flickering strobes and a deafening sound system, the group created a visual and audio spectacle. And they did it all without speaking a word. Much like mimes, the actors in Blue Man Group use gestures to communicate their thoughts and feelings. And they do so rather effectively. In one routine, they somehow made tossing marshmallows into one another’s mouths into a thrilling event.

Audience members should be warned. At two points in the show, the trio ventured into the audience and plucked out participants. One woman joined them as they sat at a table and tried to tear the cellphone off a Twinkie. One man ended up getting splattered with paint as they turned his silhouette into an art piece by hanging him upside down against a canvas. He even had to wear a protective suit and helmet. 

The event came to a conclusion with a no-holds barred “dance party.” The trio tossed giant inflatable balls into the audience and cranked up the volume of the music (a four-man live band accompanied the three Blue Men during the performance). And like any good rock concert, the show even included an encore.