PLAYING AROUND

Witnessing the Unspeakable with Blue Man Group

Innovative blue guys pull Folio Weekly A&E Editor out of crowd for stunt

Blue Man Group National Tour
Paul Kolnik
Blue Man Group National Tour
Paul Kolnik
Blue Man Group National Tour
Paul Kolnik
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7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 8 p.m. Jan. 24, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 25, and 1:30 and 7 p.m. Jan. 26

Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown

Tickets: $32-$82

442-2929, artistseriesjax.org.

The blue men of Blue Man Group never talk, so of course, they must have handlers.

Before opening night Jan. 21, those handlers picked me randomly in the audience and sized me up. They were seeing whether I had what it took to become a human paintbrush.

As it turned out, one of those handlers doesn't like reporters. After she heard I was the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly, I was not surprisingly almost out. But the other guy (Aaron) liked either me or chaos — or both. Fortunately, I met their other criteria: skinny, geeky, lover of the arts, not claustrophobic and seriously in need of a haircut. So, I was the man for the job.

Then, that woman who really hates reporters swore me to secrecy on BMG’s methods at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts’ Moran Theater. Maybe, I was getting the theater version of good cop, bad cop.

Backstage, I saw things that I may never speak of again.

The audience saw the rest. Near the end of a wild performance featuring Twinkies, lots of paint, plumbing, lots of percussion and several stunts, a blue man ventured into the crowd and found me. I hugged him, thinking this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He didn’t hug me back.

On stage, they put me in a jumpsuit and a helmet, setting me up for the human paintbrush stunt they teased.

Throughout the Artist Series show — the first of eight shows through Jan. 26 — Blue Man Group amazed. They caught “paint balls” and candy in their mouths, taught “Rock Concert” movements to the crowd and created paintings and sculpture in ways most of us could never imagine.

They took shots at high-priced art and our cultural fascination with technology while fusing audience interaction, stunts and percussion in a show estimated at about 100 minutes (no intermission). Many of the stunts — including mine — were videotaped, so theatergoers in the balcony could see the action via the big screen.

Though BMG maintains a vow of silence, the narration and text on various screens pull everything together.

In one of the night’s most popular segments, the performers became “early adopters” of GiPads — huge iPhone-like devices about a foot taller than your average blue man. The choreography and technical wizardry involved were a wonder.

Ultimately, Blue Man Group mixed the amusing with the amazing, creating a blissful party atmosphere.

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