Something new from the blue crew
Ever-evolving Blue Man Group unveils some fresh moves yet retains its sense of fun
It’s hard to believe a trio of bald, blue men has been banging on PVC pipes at the Charles Playhouse for more than 15 years now, but Blue Man Group is as wildly entertaining today as it was when it debuted. This week, the show introduced new material, which it does periodically, and the good news is that even though Blue Man Productions has evolved into an entertainment conglomerate with arena shows, a cruise line version, an album, and even a charter school, the creators still have a childlike wonder and a sly sense of humor about the world around them.
Although Blue Man creators Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink began in the ’80s performance art scene, most of the snide, sophisticated art world put-downs have gone by the wayside to be replaced by more populist humor. There’s still some discussion of science, particularly vision, but the emphasis has been shifted to the music and mayhem.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the content has been dumbed down, it just means the show has become the ultimate family entertainment, with enough low-brow humor to appeal to pre-teens without insulting their parents.
“Blue Man Group’’ is driven by its combination of high-tech audio and video capabilities with low-tech vaudevillian shtick, percussive pyrotechnics, and, of course, the innocence of the nonverbal, earless blue men. In quick succession, the trio takes on its signature routines of “paint drumming,’’ a game of paintball/marshmallow catch, and the munching of outrageously amplified Cap’n Crunch cereal before shifting into some new sketches. One of the favorites among the 13-year-old boys I accompanied were the three GiPads, “ginormous’’ versions of the iPad, complete with that tool’s slick features, as well as a few apps that aren’t available yet. The boys’ favorite was the “Digitizer,’’ which creates a digitized image of the user. The “digitizer’’ is used in several sketches that feature “screen hopping,’’ in which the performers move seamlessly between their real and virtual images, allowing for a variety of comic moments, including a wonderfully funny dance routine complete with maracas and Carmen Miranda headdress.
The Blue Men also know how to engage their audience, with people raising their hands to ask to come up and enjoy the Twinkie meal or be the model for the full-body art project. By the time they get to their modified version of “How to Be a MegaStar,’’ now “Rock Concert Moves,’’ the audience is more than ready to wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care.
Much of the fun of Blue Man comes from the trio’s playful percussion moves, including riffs on Lady Gaga, Ozzy Osbourne, and even a little Beethoven. The tight, precise three-piece Blue Man band, led by resident music director Hari Hassin, not only backs up the Blue Men, but creates a compelling groove.
By the time they get to the toilet-paper-flying finale, it’s impossible to avoid joining the rest of the “booty shaking’’ crowd in the wildest beach ball party ever.
Terry Byrne can be reached at email@example.com.