If you think having seen Blue Man Group in the past means you’ve seen all their tricks, think again. Thanks to Broadway in Detroit, Blue Man Group hit Detroit’s Fisher Theatre last night and is here through April 26, 2015 with something old, something new, something borrowed and everything blue.
We shouldn’t be surprised that the three kings of inventive spectacle comedy are able to completely reinvent their act, but there it is, we were surprised. Best of all, what we love most about the Blue Men is still there – the simplicity, the silliness and, above all, the very human connectedness. The new bits keep this act as relevant as ever, while still celebrating its essential true blue appeal.
Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink are the original artists behind the chromium blue grease paint. They’ve been doing this for about 25 years, when they first created the characters as friends living in Manhattan’s lower east side. In recent years, they’ve expanded Blue Man Group company and toured five continents. The Blue Man Group has been seen by more than 25 million people around the world.
The design for this new production relies on a giant high-res LED curtain for high-impact imagery that fills the Fisher Theatre proscenium, plus three smart phone-shaped motorized screens that the trio uses in their act. The use of video, scenic landscape and props are all part of the choreographed movement, set to brilliant audio design. Music – the kind made while drumming on paint-filled kits or Dr. Seuss-like PVC constructions – is essential to the Blue Man experience. And this isn’t just thumping – we caught snatches of Beethoven’s “Für Elise”… and even “Tequila.” The press kit notes that 550 feet worth of PVC piping is used to create the tubed instruments, supplemented by 40 drum heads used in each show, including the band in the loft. Yes, the music performed by the Blue Man Group is supplemented by a live band that plays the percussive, almost tribal music that drives the action –layering in electric guitar for extra drama. Add the strobes, pin spots, front- and back-lit scrims, live video feeds and innumerable special effects, and you have a theatrical experience calibrated for full sensory immersion.
But what makes this all work is the delightfully unexpected way in which the members of the Blue Man Group pull the audience into the act. They cleverly engage the entire audience into participating in the show before it actually begins. The Blue Men also venture out into the audience. Some people are pulled into the show as Twinkie eaters… as Toblerone tossers… even as living artwork.
“Our theatrical productions take a humorous look at what we like to call 2.5-D space,” says Blue Man Group Co-Founder Phil Stanton. “An example of what we mean by this would be emailing or texting the person in the next office rather than walking over to talk to them face-to-face.”
“We say that no matter how high-tech things get, there’s still something human there. We’ll always need others, always need to collaborate. People still need to come together and look each other in the eye. Through the Blue Man’s connection with the audience, we hope to encourage this human-to-human interaction, while helping people reconnect with their own sense of wonder and discovery, with their own sense of what is possible in their lives.”
Blue Man Group is fun, infectious and family-friendly – since they don’t talk, you don’t even have to worry about expletives. There are only eight shows, and you may want to catch more than one of them while you can. Performances are at the Fisher Theatre (3011 W. Grand Blvd in Detroit) through April 26, with evening performances every night this week, through Saturday, at 8 p.m. There are also matinees performances on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets for Blue Man Group range from $29 – $89 (includes free parking and facility fees) and are on sale at the Fisher Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, or online at the Broadway in Detroit website. For those of you who look good in Visqueen, a limited number of premium seats (in the splash zone) are available through Ticketmaster and at the box office. For more information, visit the Blue Man Group’s official website.
The Broadway In Detroit Series at the Fisher Theatre is sponsored by Chrysler. As part of this sponsorship, the latest and hottest Chrysler vehicles will be on display at the theatre, and patrons can enter a sweepstakes to win a new car.