by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville presents the Blue Man Group on stage at the Moran Theatre/Times Union Center, through January 26th, with matinee and evening performances on the 25th and 26th.
The Blue Man Group started in the 1980S on the streets of New York, created by Chris Wink, Phil Stanton, and Matt Goldman. After a few years on the road, they established permanent year-round productions in cities like New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and in 2007, at Universal Studios in Orlando.
We know some our readers have seen the commercials for the group and wondered “What is the Blue Man Group?” You can expect one hour and forty-five minutes of continuous unusual entertainment presented by three enigmatic, mute, and baldheaded men with bright blue heads and hands. It is updated and energetic high-tech performance art, based on skills derived from mime and vaudeville.
The three guys perform interactive skits involving varied characters and settings and play drums drenched in colorful paint. They are talented percussionists and also play an assortment of PVC piping accompanied by musicians perched high above the stage. All of this is bathed in an incredible changing light show.
The Blue Men somewhat resemble aliens and perhaps for this reason they never talk and never smile, but maintain a deadpan expression as they explore worlds new to them, such as eating Captain Crunch cereal with their hands or tackling Twinkies with a fork.
We were at the opening of the Blue Man Group in Orlando several years ago, and recognized some routines we had seen previously; they are still hilarious. The group has also gone very modern, exploring the digital world, mentioning Facebook, and using giant cellphones to present humorous digital exercises with helpful advice for multi-taskers included.
The first several rows in the Times Union Center reminded me of a Gallagher show, as it is a splash zone and patrons are given plastic raincoats to protect them from flying food and water. Two preselected audience members were brought on stage to perform with the group, but don’t expect the silent men in blue to insist that you must also appear as a part of the show. However, do be prepared to participate in the performance from your seat, as they visually encourage the entire audience to engage in activities like applauding, chanting, and shaking and waving arms and legs to mirror the movements of rock concert fans.
We won’t spoil the wild ending but preceding it, the group released about a dozen giant beach balls with changing colors and the audience had a terrific time punching them up and around the auditorium for several minutes.
As we walked around the lobby before the show, we were surprised at the number of repeat Blue Man fans who were present. You could often identify them because they were wearing something blue; a good idea for you when you go. Part of the fun is taking someone to the show who has never seen it before and sharing the excitement with them. The Blue Man Group may be too intense for very young children, but those aged 8 to 98 will love it. The music can be loud at times; you might find ear plugs helpful.
Take advantage of the opportunity to see this fantastic show right here in downtown Jacksonville. It is an experience you will be sure to remember and like us, will want to see again and again. Call the Artist Series at 904-442-2929 or visit artistseriesjax.org for tickets. This show will fill your world with new blues and other hues of saturated colors.
BLUE MAN GROUP
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM