Blue Man Group brings its unique shade of comedy to the Shubert Theater in New Haven
NEW HAVEN, Mar 09, 2013 (New Haven Register - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
If actions speak louder than words, then Blue Man Group speaks volumes. The mysterious blue-painted, bald-headed performers who, while uttering nary a sound, communicate a world of comedy, thought-provoking, pop-culture-popping satire with state-of-the-art production and technology, make their Shubert Theater debut with six performances there Thursday through March 17.
Blue Man may not speak, but the show is loud, bouncing to the dance-mix beat of its live band and the Blue Man's drumming that's been called tribal.
In fact, ask veteran Blue Man Wes Day what talent you need to bring to the table, and he says, "You need to be able to play music, have rhythm, play the drums, be able to tell a story with your eyes and your body, and most of the Blue Man troupe also have a uniformity to their characteristics, which contributes to the comical aspect of the show. We're between 5-foot-8 to 6-1, and a lot of us studied theater and acting."
Day is a classically trained theater actor who finds it ironic that after years of reading and reciting pages of Shakespeare and Shaw, "Here I am doing a show with no dialogue."
Blue Man is always referred to in the singular, like a collective, the Blue Man this, the Blue Man that.
He says the character has evolved over time since it was created in 1987 by Chris Wink, Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman. But what has remained steadfast is both its hilarity, poignancy, cleverness and relevance.
"I think a lot of people see themselves in the character, which encapsulates a hero, a clown, a scientist, a child in awe of the world around them.
"There's an innocent side, and there's also a trickster side. We will see a leader and also see followers. There's a dichotomy to the character, and I think people react to that," Day says.
There are three performers on stage and a fourth swingman to spell the others. "And all of us have hair. We put on a latex cap and put the makeup on," says the myth-dispelling Day, who's been a Blue Man for 14 years, both as a touring Blue Man and in the residential shows, which play in permanent venues in Boston, New York City, Orlando, Las Vegas and Chicago.
Day is looking forward to New Haven, because he says Blue Man likes college-town audiences.
"College kids really respond well to the show. They're really enthusiastic. It inspires the creative, youthful mind. For college students, it comes at a time when all the creative juices are flowing. And small college towns may not get shows of the quality or as unique as Blue Man Group. It's not 'The Sound of Music,'" he laughs.
What, exactly is it then
Days says, "I've always kind of thought of the show as a modern-day vaudeville show where the Blue Man come and do a funny skit, then come back on stage and play a funny song."
The Blue Man launches into some of its commentary, like what is art, with examples and the solicitation of the audience's opinion.
Days says this newest show is about human connection and to inspire human creativity. It takes a few slaps at today's modern personal devices, such as the smartphone, exploring all the things that make it smart as well as distracting.
"We're making a commentary on how personal devices gave gotten us away from human interaction. Our attention span goes to our palm, but creativity goes away."
As iPhones drop from the sky, Blue Man interacts about everything that you can do on these phones, from reading a book to playing music.
"It's still about human connection, but it's also a major distraction, our little phones. We rarely look up and speak to anyone, look into anyone's eyes."
The audience always plays a role in the shows. Anyone who's been to a Blue Man show knows there's a chance one may become a part of it, be it an invite to dinner on stage where Twinkies are offered with knives and forks, which "explores what it means to have a meal with someone, what it means to be human."
Or, what it means to be a Blue Man, whose humanity is somewhat of a mystery. Human, android or space alien Not sure.
"We put them in a suit and paint their chest and slap them against a canvas and help make art," Day says.
Day says the fact that the show doesn't depend on language to convey what it's doing is one of the reasons it's been so successful, crossing language and cultural divides with a universal language.
Or, as Day puts it, "It's not a single performer, like a clown with sad eyes, which is creepy.
"Blue Man is a very innocent person, and his life is really in the moment. It's that dichotomy that really draws people in and holds their attention."
IF YOU GO
Event: Blue Man Group
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. March 16, 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 17
Where: Shubert Theater, 247 College St., New Haven
Contact Donna Doherty at 203-789-5672.
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