The Blue Man Group is a blast. On March 15th, three fabulous mute Men in Black, wearing their trademark royal-blue greasepaint on their faces and latex bald caps and looking like extraterrestrial visitors newly arrived and hopelessly lost on Earth, whipped the Durham Performing Arts Center first-nighters into a frenzy, with their high-octane 90-minute show, which is part performance art, part rock concert, and part vaudeville comedy sketch.
General Fermon Judd and two anonymous cohorts — who could have been Kalen Allmandinger, Josh Elrod, Mark Frankel, Kirk Massey, Peter Musante, and/or Michael Rahhal under that thick layer of greasepaint — royally entertained DPAC patrons on Tuesday night, The Blue Man Group’s trademark percussion pyrotechnics, a couple of loopy audience-participation segments, and a jaw-dropping grand finale (pictured above), in which the group propels giant beach balls into the auditorium for the audience to bat around, earned a hearty standing ovation.
A wild scene ensued during the grand finale, as the Blue Man Group flung giant beach balls into the audience, fired steamers and other objects into the air, inflated giant puppets, etc. The show once again spilled off the stage and into the auditorium, and it reminded me of a couple of favorite lines from Tarheel poet Fred Chappell: “You are a child. You are suitable to be awed.”
The Blue Man Group truly is AWEsome, and the NETworks Presentations, LLC presentation of the group’s first-ever theatrical tour, cleverly created and written with considerable cheek by BMG co-founders Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink and staged with great gusto by director Marcus Miller and the Blue Men, adds another laurel to BMG’s creative crown.
Musical director David Traver (zither/guitar), Julian Cassanetti (strings), Jerry Kops (Chapman stick/strings), and percussionists Jason Mackenroth, Clement J. Waldman III, and Jeff Wright provide a pounding backbeat to the proceedings. But it is the three zany Blue Men themselves, banging on oil drums with lighted drumsticks and splattering liquids over the first few rows, that set the DPAC‘s audience’s pulse to racing during this wild-and-crazy multimedia show, with flamboyant multilevel sets, lurid lighting, and spectacular special effects by Joel Moritz; eye-catching costumes by Patricia Murphy and Chase Tyler; and vivid video inserts by Carly Glaab and the Blue Man Group. All in all, it was an unforgettable one-of-a-kind theatrical entertainment that proves once again that silent clowns can be just as expressive and just as funny as their loquacious comic counterparts.
WARNING: On its website, the Durham Performing Arts Center cautions: “[Blue Man Group is] Not recommended for children under the age of 8. Everyone must have a ticket regardless of age; children under 5 will not be admitted to the theater.”
SECOND OPINION: March 17th Raleigh.BroadWayworld.com review by Shane Hudson: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/Blue_Man_Group_Rocks_Durham_20110317; March 17th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/12377207/article-Blue-Man-Group-an–out-there–experience?instance=main_article (Note: You must register first to read this article); March 17th Duke University Chronicle review by Sanette Tanaka: http://dukechronicle.com/article/blue-man-group-lights-dpac-color; March 16th Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV interview with General Judd and David Traver: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/video/9276818/#/vid9276818; and March 12th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Charity Apple: http://www.thetimesnews.com/articles/durham-41966-plans-shows.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the March 14th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/03/blue-man-group-brings-its-first-ever-theatrical-tour-to-dpac-for-eight-performances-march-15-20/.)
Durham Performing Arts Center presents BLUE MAN GROUP at 7:30 p.m. March 17, 8 p.m. March 18, 2 and 8 p.m. March 19, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 20 at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
TICKETS: $25.75-$83.50 (including fees).
BOX OFFICE: DPAC Box Office: 919/680-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ticketmaster: 800/982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/843991.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/281-0587, email@example.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/default.asp?dpac=52. SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/default.asp?dpac=19&objId=281.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/officialbluemangroup.
DPAC‘S SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/default.asp?dpac=21.
Blue Man Group: http://www.blueman.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Man_Group (Wikipedia), http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=show&title=Blue Man Group: Tubes (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1292489/ (Internet Movie Database).
The Tour: http://www.blueman.com/nationaltour/ (official web page).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.