Story: Well, there really is no story. The Blue Man Group is an act comprised of three mute performers in blue makeup covering their skulls and wearing utilitarian uniforms. They’re backed by an on-stage band as they cavort through one act and 90 minutes of amusing skits that defy simple categorization. Suffice to say that their show blends comedy, music, multi-media and agility into entertainment that appeals to children but also is sophisticated enough to enthrall adults.
Highlights: Am I blue that the Blue Man Group has taken so long to get to St. Louis? After all, it debuted in November 1991 at the Astor Place Theatre in New York City, and since its first national tour opened in September 2010 it’s been seen by more than 2 million people worldwide. It’s first visit to the Gateway City is well worth the wait, however, as the clever lads and lasses (yes, there are both male and female performers among the 90 or so Blue Men worldwide) who inhabit Patricia Murphy’s iconic costume design put on a non-stop tour de force that specializes in the unexpected with delightful results.
Other Info: For the record, the Fox Theatre program lists six people performing as ‘Blue Man,’ namely Kalen Allmandinger, Shane Andries, James Marlowe, Patrick Newton, Russell Rinker and Chris Smith. The Blue Man Group is accompanied by an accomplished band featuring Charles Henry, Jerry Kops, Chris Reiss, Rion Smith, Clement Waldmann III and Randy Wooten.
Of course, they’re all rather anonymous, as the musicians pound away on a pulsating, tribal percussion beat that permeates the entire performance, while a trio of costumed Blue Men move athletically and inquisitively from one experience to another.
A good place to begin to describe the goings-on is the electronic billboard that introduces the show. That stream of words gets the audience into a festive mood, introducing VIPs and not-so-VIPs in the audience to cued applause, asking for cell phone silence and encouraging some good-natured banter by the crowd.
The performers, who gracefully cruise through a bevy of routines in total silence, are engaging to watch and admire, especially if one considers catching 34 consecutive gum balls in one’s mouth as talented (count me as one who does). Another Blue Man clamps down on paintballs in his mouth to create works on canvas that then are given to audience members.
A tardy duo on opening night was surprised to be the center of unwanted attention as they made their way to their seats as shown on the big screen beneath the words, “You’re late!” Another young lady was escorted from her seat to the stage, where she was the guest of honor at an impromptu (and timely) Twinkies dinner with her three quiet and colorful suitors, whose impulsive appetites resulted in some unfortunate digestive consequences that delighted children of all ages in the show’s best skit.
There also was clever give and take by the group with some giant smart phones as well as amusing side trips into real science and some not-so-real scientific terms devised by the troupe to explain frenetic activities on stage. All the while Joel Moritz’s production and lighting design serves as an eye-catching supplemental background for the shenanigans as the band performs essentially non-stop on an elevated platform, set off by resplendent lighting that accentuates their frenzied torsos.
Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink came up with the idea for the Blue Man Group more than 20 years ago and performed more than 1,000 times at the Astor Place Theatre before moving behind the scenes. They’re listed as co-creators, co-writers and co-directors, although Marcus Miller and the Blue Man Group serve in that capacity for this touring production.
Chris Dyas, Larry Heinemann, Ian Pai, Todd Perlmutter and Jeff Turlik are credited as artistic and musical collaborators for the touring version. The dazzling and innovative video design, featured on a huge LED screen above the stage, is by Caryl Glaab and the Blue Man Group, Chase Tyler provides the costume design and Byron Estep is musical director.
There’s something for everyone in a show that is part science lesson, part athleticism, part showmanship, part amazing artistry and all entertainment. You can catch the Blue Man Group any time in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, Berlin or Tokyo, or through December 2 at the Fox. You won’t regret it for a minute.
Play: Blue Man Group
Group: Touring Company
Venue: Fox Theatre
Dates: Through December 2
Tickets: From $15; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com
Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.