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Performance review: Blue Man Group integrates comedy and music in atypical, animated show

(Courtesy of the Blue Man Group)

"Blue Man Group"

Sep 24 - Oct 6

Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Price Varies

By Phillip Leung

Sept. 28, 2019 4:52 p.m.

Within minutes of the Blue Man Group’s performance, the Blue Men are catching paintballs by the mouth from 15 feet away.

The Blue Man Group, who will be performing their “Speechless” tour at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre until Oct. 6, is a bizarre theater group whose shows involve an enthralling mix of music, physical comedy and quality stage production. This mixture of live musical performance and interactive acts from the Blue Man Group adds up to a perplexing, but certainly memorable, experience.

Before the performance even began, the intricately designed stage was already a captivating display. The stage was a cross section of a box made up of metal beams, with numerous screens of varying sizes and lights of several different shapes and colors filling the gaps. A live band – not in Blue Man costume tucked into the corner of the box was briefly off-putting, but as the show progressed, it quickly became an integral support system to the Blue Man Group’s musical numbers.

Eventually, the men in blue appeared and curiously observed the stage around them before opening the show with a tiny gong they pulled from a brown paper bag. As the group interacted with the DJ-like platforms of the stage to synthesize their music, the lights and screens would respond in tandem to the beats. With random images and colors flashing to the rhythm of the music, it was as if the audience was looking into a futuristic musical playground the Blue Man Group was jauntily tinkering with. Any confusion regarding the Blue Men’s antics quickly changed to intrigue as their performance continued.

The three-man ensemble, dressed in their identical black trench coats and trademark blue makeup, seamlessly weaved between percussion-based music and comedic skits. The men would maneuver themselves into strange scenarios, such as sweeping confetti or attempting to bypass the rules of rock, paper, scissors, making seemingly mundane activities upbeat and exciting. Each scenario smoothly transitioned to the next, allowing the Blue Man Group to boast a wide variety of acts.

These lighthearted skits were often occupied with the group scanning the audience for participants, either to perform on stage with them or contribute to their musical conglomerations, such as having audience members input random noises into a microphone that gradually evolved into a catchy remix. Children and adults alike were jumping in their seats to get a chance to join the show, or at least earn an inquisitive look from one of the Blue Men.

Though the Blue Man Group’s comedic moments were amusing, their talent shined in their musical acts. Several of the segments consisted of the Blue Men contorting various objects into musical instruments, with PVC pipes being transformed into wind instruments and fishing rods into electric basses. Oftentimes, the makeshift instruments would be shown on stage before a sound was made, provoking a brief period of wonder in the audience before revealing how the contraption functioned.

As the production continued, each act introduced a new concept or assembly distinct from all the ones prior, stunning the audience with either a new instrument or physical performance. Each segment was memorable enough to stand on its own, and with multiple instances of audience participation, viewers were sure to be engaged. After an hour and a half, the Blue Man Group ended their performance on a grand musical number involving a powerful drumming sequence, along with a cheerful surprise performance after the curtain call. It was a simple but nonetheless strong finale that played to the musical strengths of the Blue Man Group.

As the lights came on following the final encore, the theater floor was covered in streamers and confetti – a fitting end to an admittedly bewildering, but lively performance. Audiences likely will not be walking out of the Pantages Theatre having drawn a profound message from the Blue Man Group’s performance, but perhaps they’re not supposed to.

Maybe no one can fully comprehend a Blue Man Group performance, but everyone will surely be able to find something to enjoy.

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Phillip Leung
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