Critic's PickProjected on a screen filling the proscenium at the Aronoff Center’s Procter & Gamble Hall, as the audience waits for Blue Man Group to get under way, there’s a quotation from the International Diplomacy Guidebook. It says, “The best way to forge a lasting friendship is to create something together,” and continues, “Whether it’s a meal, an art project or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.” Given this piece of profundity, I’d say that the three Blue Men — their heads coated in blue latex, their hands spray-painted blue — created “something” that drew the audience into a strange and wonderful communal experience.
Drawing comparisons is a futile way to describe Blue Man Group.
It’s a uniquely conceived and executed form of entertainment that includes music (especially percussion, often played on drums but also on lengths of white PVC pipe), electronica (lights, astonishing video technology, including smart phone simulations and screens that the men seem to step in and out of), childish gross-outs (how many marshmallows can you push into your mouth) and silliness that owes a lot to the physicality Three Stooges and the silent slapstick of Harpo Marx.
The 100-minute show (no intermission) rotates from bombastic music (a black-light illuminated band of four backs the Blue Men from two elevated platforms) to humor to audience participation. The Blue Men wander into the audience — beyond the three-row splatter zone (audience members receive complimentary plastic ponchos), walking across seatbacks and arm rests, up and down aisles to identify a few victims who will join them onstage.
The Blue Men don’t speak, but there’s lots of witty wordplay that emanates from various video displays, especially funny banter on two overhead displays of red LED text as the show begins that gives instructions, amusing warnings and comments. The hilarity ramps up in the closing minutes, when a “spontaneous dance party,” using “concert move” instructions that get more and more ridiculous, culminating in immense, illuminated spheres tossed into the audience followed by toilet paper cannons, streamers and fog. Videos encourage more and more — each time with an instruction followed by “Ready Go.” Everyone was ready — and they definitely went!
BLUE MAN GROUP, presented by Broadway Across America at the Aronoff Center, continues through Oct. 28.