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Blue Man Group rock the house with humor

May 23, 2012
By Sarah Reed , The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - Offerings of earplugs from theater personnel and the sight of plastic parkas draped over several of Pittsburgh's Benedum Center's first rows of seating served merely as a prelude to the mind-spinning visitation audiences were about to receive from a trio of friendly, nonspeaking, glossy blue-skinned men known as Blue Man Group.

The production, full of thrills and eye-popping amusement, was a splashy pleasure for seasoned theater-goers and comparatively irregular theater attendees alike.

"Blue Man Group" presents itself with the major aim of forming a bond between its leading artists' culture and the very technological society of the modern, everyday human, through a mesmerizing conglomeration of dazzling spectacle, innovative music-making and highly humorous moments of audience interactivity.

Distinctly a display of stunning visual effects, and sporting a great emphasis on thundering percussive music, the artists would alternately parade these art forms separately or combined. Chiefly using sturdy piping, the men, with backup instrumentals from a band of neon striped-costumed musicians, would create rhythmic tunes and pitches by striking the hollow tubing. In an effort to mesh percussion with colorful appearance, the threesome, at one interval, pounded upon drums while singular-colored paints were applied to and rose up from each man's respective drum.

Segments depicting random but, at times, familiar premises also aided the production in its goal to unite the border between lifestyles.

Such a moment was a rock concert-style section in which panels with animated figures illustrated, and one bigger screen and a male voice verbalized, a host of hand and arm gestures one sees during a rock concert; for example, the "raise the roof" movement in which one moves their arms up and down with their palms upward toward the roof of the auditorium; and the "wave-your-arms-in-the-air-like-you-just-don't-care" motion where one simply waves their arms in a carefree fashion.

Perhaps the most humorous aspect of the segment came when the audience was asked to stand and shake their "booties" while a copious and innocent list of synonyms for one's rear end was broadcast on the set's largest screen and was read by a commanding, unseen voice, and later when huge illuminated balls were thrown into the orchestra section and batted around haphazardly.

If you should ever decide to enter the fanciful world of "Blue Man Group," there are a few things you ought to consider toting along with you on your journey - firstly, an open mind; secondly, a full sense of humor, especially if you are cajoled into personally partaking in the event's inevitable wildness; and thirdly, if possible, you might want to take advantage of the complimentary earplugs given out pre-performance. Yours truly did.

(Reed is theater critic for Weekender.)

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