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THEATER REVIEW | Blue Man Group bring their unique brand of fun to the Orpheum Theatre
The Blue Man Group opened their 10-night engagement in Minneapolis on June 15 with a show that brought all sorts of audience involvement —from a Twinkie feast to dropping chewed-up marshmallows into one unfortunate woman’s purse to a fun-filled dance party—to the crowd at the Orpheum Theatre.
As the audience filled the theatre, an excerpt from the “International Diplomacy Guidebook” projected upon a screen over the stage read, “the best way to forge a lasting friendship is to create something together. Whether it’s a meal, an art project or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.” By buying a ticket, we had agreed to make a connection with these strange bald and Blue Men.
Like every Blue Man Group performance, this one featured three men dressed in black with bald blue heads and hands. They didn’t speak, but that never limited their ability to communicate through body language, dance moves, and meaningful stares from their wide, white eyes. They clearly expressed their curiosity and wonder at the people and things that were part of their show.
Although they act like they’re from another planet, they also have a child-like sense of play, including a number of bits involving food—not just the aforementioned Twinkies and marshmallows, but also gumballs, Jell-O, and Cap’n Crunch. The creators of this show are clearly in touch with the junior-high boys inside them. These bits get a lot of laughs, but also a lot of “eew’s.”
When they’ve finished playing with their food, the Blue Men are at their best when they play with paint. Whether spitting paint from special paint gumballs onto canvas or drumming their signature paint-covered drums to create fluorescent fountains, it’s both beautiful and messy. If you’re buying tickets, keep in mind that the first few rows are called the “splash zone” for good reason.
A big part of the performance includes observations about our modern world and our frequent failure to interact with each other in meaningful ways. At one point, enormous “GiPads” descend from the ceiling, and the Blue Men work their way through several apps, playing video games and reading factoids about multi-tasking.
Another highlight of the show is the music, which is always one of my favorite parts of a Blue Man Group show. Not only do the Blue Men have their own backing band, they also create unique music using instruments crafted from PVC pipe and other types of tubing.
The audience is encouraged to stand up and perform several “Rock Concert Movements.” It’s so loud and exhilarating that I yearned to be up on stage, too. It’s difficult to decide whether I’d rather be wailing away on the huge bass drum or thrashing my head as I play the guitar. But since I don’t yet play either instrument, I gleefully join the audience-wide dance party that is the culmination of the performance. Streamers and toilet paper flow over the crowd, strobe lights flash, music pulses, and huge illuminated balloons bounce through the crowd as the show nears its conclusion. As the audience leaves the theatre, it’s easy to see that the Blue Men have succeeded in making a connection and letting us all in on the fun.
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Collaborative.
©2012 Becky Parker (text) and Dave Parker (photos)