BWW Reviews: BLUE MAN GROUP Explores Music, Paint and Toilet Paper

Strange blue visitors have arrived in Modesto, California. With the curiosity of a child, these blue men explore technology, paint, pipes, drums, the body, art... even toilet paper. Their facial expressions, comedic movements and intriguing acts sell the show, with each number more random than the one before it. There's no consistent theme or story, but a constant celebration of art and music, most of which consists of drums, guitar and a few instruments made out of pipes and other objects. This is Blue Man Group.

No one can quite prepare you for Blue Man Group. The show exceeds most expectations and still manages to surprise audiences with clown acts, audience interaction, a dance party, a live band and LED lighting that covers most of the background. Prepare those cheek muscles of yours, because you won't be able to stop smiling. 

Audiences roar with laughter and excitement before the Blue Men even come on stage. Short messages light up asking the audience to yell if they're paying attention and to wish a certain audience member a happy birthday, as well as recognize special guests and help one guest with a headache by telling him or her to imagine a cow. And once the show officially starts, any latecomers are greeted by bright lights and their faces plastered on the large LED screens. The audience interaction continues with small and large gifts for select audience members and a "beach ball" party finale.

The Blue Men, so named because of their very blue faces and hands (contrasted with black outfits), make quirky movements, jerking their heads side to side, looking at each other in silly ways like a funny looking alien might. They take the audience on a journey through art - painting with their mouths and with bodies - through technology - what would the world be like without GiPads, gigantic versions of iPhones - through music - played with outstanding energy using pipes, drums, paints and dramatic lighting - and much more.

Audiences may go expecting a lot of mess, but the front two rows (which are treated to their own ponchos) go away clean for the most part. Some of the excitement is lost on the balcony section and the back of the orchestra section - if you want to play with the beach balls and enjoy some flying toilet paper, make sure you sit in the front half of the orchestra. The acts include a little less of the big bombastic acts you might expect and a lot more of acts just as interesting, but less expected. A quick look at the souvenir program or a YouTube trailer leaves the impression that the touring version of the show has been shortened and lacks something that might make it more spectacular. The show clocks in at just over an hour and a half, and it does not include an intermission. 

Blue Man Group knows how to brand itself. Their blue facade really has no point. Only those in the front rows are close enough to make out the contrast in colors when paint splashes onto the faces of these blue men. But the look adds to the strange personalities of the three title characters, and the hard to Miss Blue face paint make this act unique. The men, themselves, become art, and they use themselves as canvases as they play drums covered in neon-colored paint. Blue Man Group is known for this act, but the act doesn't last long and doesn't make for much of an encore. In fact, the show has plenty of drums, but still leaves the audience wanting and expect more crazy and loud drums. Some of the best acts are far too short.

But Blue Man Group is about far more than drums and paint. It's an experience - an experience well worth living.

A side note on souvenirs - if you buy tickets to this show, you might as well spend a little more on the souvenirs: The $25 CD includes music from the show, but has been changed for the studio and does not include some of the more show stopping numbers. The $15 souvenir program doesn't have much to recommend it. Pictures are close ups that don't give you much of an idea of what you've witnessed. A few great shirts are available for purchase, though, and the CD's "background" music makes for great, relaxing listening.


Blue Man Group

Gallo Center for the Arts

Saturday, Nov 26, 2 PM, 8 PM

Sunday, Nov 27, 2 PM, 7 PM

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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