A quick glance at the crowd around us shuffling from the parking lot to the Bass Concert Hall is enough to reveal THE BLUE MAN GROUP’s broad, inclusive appeal. Children from six to sixteen accompanied their parents, twenty-somethings with friends, couples and many others all gathered on the sidewalks to make way for this very popular performance art show. It makes sense. BLUE MAN GROUP performances are “euphoric celebrations of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication”. And they are for everyone.
BLUE MAN GROUP was originally conceived by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1987. Its roots are in performance art which originally addressed themes of science and culture. technology, the internet, cultural norms, innocence and more. Some of these elements remain in performances today. It’s definitely not traditional theatre. Actors interested in joining the BLUE MAN GROUP are encouraged to commit 100% to the improvisational work at the heart of all acting, but these performers must constantly stay in this newness to make this show believable, and they achieve it. They are dumb drummers, clowns, actors and comedians.
As the Blue Men walk through and join the audience from the stage to choose a pair of “volunteers” from the audience, it’s easy to see both their innocence and the theme of cultural norms improvising a human experience of, say… . go out together. In this section of the show, and a few others, it became clear that we were in an audience full of extroverts, or an audience full of regular viewers. I suspect it was the latter. A darling “couple” was good sportsman for this experience, but be warned, this is not a show for the introverted at heart. If this is you, secure your seats several rows back. Oh, and don’t be late, you might get called.
BLUE MAN GROUP was purchased by Cirque du Soleil in 2017. BLUE MAN GROUP productions have included traveling shows and ongoing performances in permanent locations since 1997. It is debatable whether what one reviewer called its “brilliant mix of populism and cultural critique” has been lost over the years. But I’d be a “suffocating theater geek” if I said yes.
There’s no story to follow here, and no “stuffy theatrical culture” to fear. (I a m a stuffy theater geek, please don’t take offense). But he is an exploration of beautiful visual art (and a parody of it), the landscape of our digital world, and a magnificent blend of technology and music. BLUE MAN GROUP is actually a great way to introduce your unenthusiastic husband, wife, sister, brother, friend or kids (especially boys) to “real theatre”. BLUE MAN GROUP’s popularity lies in the fact that it has achieved that perfect niche of providing high-caliber artistic performances that anyone can understand, appreciate, and even come back to see. His original intent might be lost on the college kid, but his roots remain. BLUE MAN GROUP is a wonderful sensory experience for the whole family.
Michael Dalen leads Blue Men Mike Brown, Meridian, Josh Wills and Blue Man Captain Adam Zuick for the tour that hits the drums at Bass Concert Hall.
For more information, visit the Texas Performing Arts Center here.