BWW Review: BLUE MAN GROUP Shows NYC What Connection Is All About
Performance art. Living in New York City, we're surrounded by it daily: musicians jamming in Central Park, subway buskers moving between train cars to perform backflips and handsprings, the occasional flash mob coming out of nowhere and creating the perfect Instastory. But even though we're blessed to be in contact with these gifted performers on a regular basis, there's nothing that quite compares to the magic of the Blue Man Group. They're performance. They're art. They're the ultimate performance art that will rival anything you've ever seen before.
Blue Man Group is showing Off-Broadway at Astor Place Theatre (434 Lafayette Street), where it originally started, performing their first show there in 1991. The iconic group was created by three friends back in 1987, Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton. It consists of three very blue bald men, exploring the world through a keen sense of wonder and music, sans speech. Yep, you read that right: there is absolutely no talking throughout the performance, but that doesn't keep you from laughing, jamming, gasping (with glee, sometimes shock), and most of all, connecting. Because, while the show could feel like a jumble of random slapstick comedy sketches thrown together if you aren't paying attention, at the core of the performance is the importance of connecting with each other. And as the men so eloquently demonstrate, true connection isn't made via smartphones. It isn't captured via small talk. And it certainly isn't mandatory to connect over a fancy dinner. Indeed, what we walk away with is that connection is made through self-discovery and spending quality face-to-face time with others appreciating art, music, comedy, friendship...no spoken language required. This theme alone is an important one that NYC kids can take a lot away from, right parents? Right.
Over 35 million people of all ages, cultures, and languages (yep, because there's no speaking!), have journeyed and jammed with the Blue Man Group. The performance features an excellent live-band, whose tribal beats provide the backdrop to the blue men, as they creatively explore props, audience members, food tastes and textures, and, oh! Paint. Let's not forget the 18,000 buckets of paint splashed per year on the Blue Man Group stages. Pink! Yellow! Blue! The stage feels like a Jackson Pollock painting by the end.
The show reads as a beautiful mixture of a slapstick comedy act, clowning, Broadway show, rock concert, dancing, and subway busking. I'll say it again: truly performance art in its very top form. The New York Times sums it up as "one of the most delightful performance pieces ever staged", and I couldn't agree more. There's a fantastic scene that features the blue men discovering marshmallows, throwing them excitedly into each other's mouths. Children will squeal with delight at the humor of it, and adults will recall summer days of their childhood making smores--happiness in all forms.
At a running time of approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, Blue Man Group is family-friendly, and appropriate for kids (three and over), teens and adults. Toddlers and babies under three are not permitted into the theater, and everyone requires their own ticket. The show is incredibly interactive and sensory stimulating (in fact, the first few rows are even given ponchos to keep paint and other moist substances from flying onto their clothes.) That being said, if your child is a sensory avoider (doesn't love loud noises, direct eye contact, or having strange objects being thrown in their direction), it might actually be smart to get seats further back for this show. The theater is intimate, so even the balcony seats are privy to a great view. But if they enjoy being right smack in the middle of everything, by all means, sit in the splash section, i.e. Poncho Seats!
For an extra special experience, consider booking VIP tickets that will have you jamming out with a Blue Man Group Band Member before the show starts on a custom-made instrument made out of PVC pipes. The 20 minute jam session lets you learn drum patterns and be an honorary part of the band as you rock out. The experience is for groups of up to 4 people, and comes with a poncho seat and honorary VIP band member credential for early seating in the theater. It's the perfect addition if your child is really into music or is celebrating a birthday or special occasion. You're encouraged to capture their (perhaps first?) performance art piece on camera, and let them share it with their grandparents, teachers, and bff's from summer camp. You know, because at the end of the day, it's all about connection.
Details: Blue Man Group plays an open-ended run at Astor Place Theatre. Approximately 90 minutes, no intermission. Show is appropriate for children ages 4 and up, and their grown-ups.