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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 41
Blue Man Group provides visual feast
Arts & Entertainment
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Blue Man Group provides visual feast

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

Blue Man Group
Paramount Theatre
Through October 16


These silent figures, with their blue skin and bald heads, have become easily recognizable in the world of performance, and for good reason. The Blue Man Group has been around for over a decade and their popularity only increases as more and more people embrace the blue. Now Seattle has its turn and, as with most other previous cities, the Emerald City opens its arms to the Blue Man Group.

Technically, there are six Blue Man performers with an onstage band consisting of six musicians. While the band takes backstage, they are still easily seen in neon, black-light costumes that make them glow in the dark. The Blue Men are dressed in black outfits with only the iconic blue skin showing. Using body motions, and extremely expressive eye gestures, the men are completely silent during the entire performance.

So what exactly is a Blue Man performance? It's a mixture of a rock concert, performance art, and a visual conception through electric colors and lighting. As the three main performers start to beat out a rhythm, mercurial splashes of colored lights shoot up and outward from the kettles they are playing. Soon, lights are vibrating all over the stage and even outward into the audience. Even the digital message board, that reminds us that talking/texting during a performance is prohibited, is part of the show. It flashes humorous messages to individual members of the audience, as well as giving the audience instructions in joining in as the show goes on.

Blue Man Group is definitely an audience participation performance. Objects (solid, liquid, paper) are tossed out into the crowd to invite them to play with the Blue Men. The first few rows are given ponchos due to being seated in the 'splash zone.' An audience-cam is used for close-ups and for when the Blue Men venture out into the crowds, inviting us to play. And if you dare to arrive late, well, let's just say you will be noticed.

Blue Man Group is also a commentary on society. One 'scene' shows three giant 'gi-pad' phones, each set to a different purpose. As the performers tap the screens, various notes appear to the audience, giving humorous explanations to a world very foreign to the Blue Men. And the show is even more than that. At one point, an audience member is brought on stage to participate in being the literal brush for painted nouveau art. The finale of the show is a cumulated explosion of confetti guns, paper rolls, and giant multicolored air balls, tossed out into the audience to allow all of us a chance at finding our inner Blue Man.

Blue Man Group is more than a concert or a performance. It's a visual feast of watching alien adult children at recess, marveling at and exploring their foreign surroundings in a world that we may take for granted. There is a certain innocence that each Blue Man evokes and we, the audience, have no other choice but to watch and marvel as they discover the world around them.

Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink originally conceived Blue Man Group in the late 1980s. An instant success in Manhattan, the act quickly won acclaim with a special citation at the Village Voice Obie Awards in 1991, and a year later was given a special Lucille Lortel Award for excellence in Off-Broadway theater. Currently, there are at least three permanent homes for the Blue Man Group, in Las Vegas, New York, and on the Norwegian Cruise Line.

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