Blue Man Group Speechless

Melinda Schupmann Reviews - Theater

Among the most recognizable novelty acts extant, the three cobalt-blue headed guys in black trench coats are still amusing audiences long after their 1987 debut. What they do is part clown, part musician, and part artist. It is impromptu and planned, depending on the whims of the performers. For 90 minutes they unleash their special blend of theatrical shtick to the delight of the crowd.

At show's opening, the audience is prepared for their entrance with hoots, screams, and a peculiar mix of yelps. The show is billed as Blue Man Group Speechless, and their quirky pantomime is what people come to watch. After some initial percussion, they cast their eyes on the audience for victims to perform with them. The percussion is loud enough for the theater to give out ear plugs for those who ask.

The Blue Men are Meridian, Mike Brown, Steven Wendt, and Adam Zuick. They have impressive theatrical training and credits. Accompanying them are Corky Gainsford, Robert Gomez, and Jerry Kops on their own bandstand. Composers are Andrew Schneider and Jeff Turlik.

Jason Ardizzone-West's elaborate set is a massive structure with cascading lights, tv screens, and different levels allowing the performers to climb and hang from sections. Jen Schriever provides the lighting design that includes spotlights that can shine into the audience as well as highlighting the performers. Emilio Sosa is costume designer, and Crest Factor (Marcus Ross) is listed for the ever-present sound design. It's multi-media eye candy.

It's hard to describe the mannerisms of the group, as their very white eyes are bold and prominent in those blue heads. What they do is purposeful and task-oriented, yet it is pure silliness and novelty. They bring a young woman to the microphone to make noises with what looks like rubber chickens from my seat. Then three guys are chosen to sit on stools and engage in a blend of swaying and pantomime of their own.

One of their signature delights is catching marshmallows in their mouths, defying the expectations of how many one can catch. A second man catches round balls which squirt paint producing a contemporary painting. There are streamers, confetti, and the ubiquitous marshmallows flying into the audience for effect.

Whatever description you read here cannot capture the peculiar zaniness of the guys. They fetch and carry objects that can make noise, and they seem to have a purpose known only to them.

The program lists a series of directors: Gomez: resident music director; Jonathan Knight: creative director; Michael Dahlen: senior creative director; Jenny Koons: director. One imagines them sitting around thinking up craziness or props for the group to play.

The best part of the show is the drumming. In this new tour, a little more of that would enhance the program. But what you get when you see their show is unexpected and colorful--worth the trip to the Pantages and maybe a photo op with one of the Blue Man Group.