Reviewed by: Ed Goodman 5/13/2014
Blue Man Group
Adrienne Arsht Center
Through May 18th
It's a bit hard to pigeon hole a show like "Blue Man Group". Is it performance art? Amazing technology and CGI? A driving percussion concert? Childs play?
Rank silliness? Social commentary? I suppose its a little bit of everything. It can be entertaining, its definitely loud and in your face and its amazingly durable.
"BMG" started in 1987 in New York City. It is the brainchild of Chris Wink, Philip Stanton and Matt Goldman who've grown the company to become a world-wide creative force that rivals the likes of Cirque du Soleil for name recognition and number of companies performing. The Blue Men are currently on tour here until Sunday, but you can find resident companies in Chicago, Boston, New York, Orlando and Las Vegas.
There's no dialogue among the blue men who are on the stage and in the audience, constantly. Only identified as "Blue Man" in the program the interchangeable group includes: Mike Brown, Benjamin Forster, Russell Rinker and Scott Speiser. Their timing and synchronicity is quite amazing. You get the feeling they've done the show so often they know exactly where the other will be and what he'll be doing at any given moment. And they are also quite the percussionists, playing everything from PVC pipes to giant floating balloons.
"Blue Man Group" is sensory overload. There's music from a good, frenetic band on stage as well as the Blue Men themselves. There's lighting to match the intensity and sensitivity of every scene. And then there's color. Lots and lots of color. It comes at you from every spot on stage and is a visual explosion at every turn.
The show is interactive from the start with two crawl signs on stage left and right, giving us timely, humorous reminders of what we should do with our mobile devices, to congratulating an Olympic bronze medal winner to singing Happy Birthday to an audience member. And it goes on from there during the show - with an older woman and younger man "yanked" from the audience to be part of the playfulness on stage to having the blue boys bounce in and out of the aisles on a regular basis.
The show is great for kids of all ages - although younger ones might have trouble dealing with the cranked up volume and intense strobe light scenes. Its a visual and aural amalgamation that can be beautiful and harsh all at once. The electronics, CGI wizardry and gadgetry are over the top, with some very clever bits involving cell phones, dancing digital giants and behind-the-scrim slight of hand that was very fun to watch.
I hadn't seen a BMG production in about 15 years and I was wondering what I was going to get as an "update". I expected to get the extreme multimedia experience which I did - and it mixed surprisingly well with the old school "original" material (i.e. the PVC playing). But overall, the "Blue Man Group" concept seemed a bit tired - and not because it isn't good. It is. But when it was new, it was really new, really cutting edge. We hadn't seen stuff like that before in the theatre. Now, with all the bells and whistles we have in the world of media, bombarding us not only in our daily lives, but from theatre stages everywhere, it just seems to be as tightly stretched as those blue masks that have become so well known.
For the most part though, "Blue Man Group" is a fun evening - and a short one too, running just over 90 minutes without an intermission. During the highlights on stages, its a reminder that live theatre can be a good time. Fun for, well, just the fun of it.
Tickets: adriennearshtcenter or Box Office 305- 949-6722
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