Blue Man Group in Dallas, Texas
The quirky performance art trio known as Blue Man Group has returned to Dallas for a quick visit. The show kicked off last night at the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House and plays through December 30th.
From Street Theater to a Theatrical Tour
Longtime friends, Matt Goldman, Chris Wink, and Phil Stanton created Blue Man Group in the 1980′s, and the concept has been evolving ever since. What started as guerilla street theater in New York City has grown into a major enterprise. Blue Man Group now has full-time talent scouts scouring theater festivals and college campuses for talent, a show in Las Vegas, a Grammy nomination, and now this theatrical tour of the USA.
What is a Blue Man Group show like?
A Blue Man Group performance combines the energy of a rock concert with high tech visuals, expert musicianship and plenty of humor. That said, their performance is not easy to describe since the show is more than what happens on stage. Like any good performance art, part of the experience is what you feel while in the audience. This is why, when trying to explain them it’s easy to fall back on, “you had to be there.” The most concise description I’ve come up with is that a Blue Man Group show feels like a shamanic drumming journey led by a group of Sesame Street characters.
What is the Blue Man Character?
The action focuses on a trio known collectively as the Blue Man character. These three performers wear glistening blue face paint and loose-fitting black clothes. To be a Blue Man performer one must possess certain characteristics, which include a height range of 5’10″-6’1, acting talent, percussion skills, and the ability to catch food in one’s mouth. It’s an unusual skill set, to be sure, but over the years, there has even been a female Blue Man!
You really can’t tell one Blue Man from the other, nor should you bother. The show is about group interactions, not individual personalities. Much of the humor arises from moments when one of the three performers acts differently than the rest, thereby creating a little rift in the dynamics.
There is something intelligent, naive and endearing about the Blue Man character, although he never speaks a word, and maintains an eerie deadpan expression at all times. The trio frequently roves the audience, sometimes even walking right over the seats. At one point, a Blue Man briefly made eye contact with me. It was unnerving! It reminded me of how a wild animal can gaze at you with seemingly empty eyes, yet you know they are fully aware of you. I couldn’t be sure what that Blue Man might do next – pounce?
For all its energy and apparent spontaneity, the Blue Man Group show is carefully thought out, and courteous to the audience. Plastic raingear is provided for those sitting in the first two rows, in case any of the messy stuff on stage spills over. Also, while the music is loud, it is expertly mixed so that even though you can sometimes feel the bass pounding in your chest, the sounds won’t hurt your ears. (Of course, if your ears are extra sensitive, a pair of earplugs is a good idea.)
Inspiring Family Entertainment
Blue Man Group makes a great family outting, and is fun for young and old. Kids will enjoy the slapstick and high-tech visuals. Adults can enjoy that too, plus the more sophisticated humor and the added layer of social commentary. Music lovers, and especially drummers, will be inspired by the energy and skill of the performers. That said, the pounding bass and strobe lights may be too much for certain people. Also, take into consideration that the show runs nearly 2 hours and has no intermission. If you think your child is too young for a rock concert, get a babysitter this time around, and take some friends instead.
What I liked best about Blue Man Group is how it takes all pretension out of performance art, which can often be snooty and elitist. Blue Man Group, on the other hand, reaches out to the audience (quite literally, at times!) and is never condescending, even when poking fun at our cultural norms. Blue Man Group’s finale had the entire audience on its feet, and even after the encore, people seemed reluctant to leave their seats. I felt like we were all 8-years-old again and did not want the party to end.
For More Information:
What:Blue Man Group US Theatrical Tour
When: December 26th through 30th, 2012
Where: 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Price: Tickets start at $25. Check availability and book online at the AT&T Performing Art Center official website.
Runtime:Approximately 2 hours with no intermission.
NOTE: While tickets were provided for review purposes, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.
Photo credits: All photos provided courtesy of the AT&T Performing Arts Center