My Night with Three Blue Men

An account of Blue Man Group from first-time viewer (and Veteran)

More stories from Rut Ortiz

McNair Scholars Program
October 31, 2017

More stories from Hailey G Boyle

Courtesy of Blue Man Group
The Blue Men bang on their drums full of paint.

RUT:

The night started innocent enough. It was a Thursday, specifically Oct. 8, I found my seat in row Q and proceeded to look around. The venue was ample for a smaller type of theater, the lights were dim and the seats were comfortable. I observed patrons sitting all the way down in the front few rows…wearing plastic ponchos. It was as if they were waiting for a rainstorm to form overhead.

As a first-time viewer, I was unaware that the ponchos were absolutely necessary but for the greater good, I feel I should warn all future, first-time viewers… if you sit in the front five or six rows, you may just get splashed with something. Whether it is paint, water or some type of food, you will get splashed. And that was the fun part of observing the viewers down in the front… they took it all in with awe and an almost bewilderment.

Back to the show… if it can be called that. Blue Man Group is a theater experience unlike any other. As cliché as that sounds, there is no other way to say it. Skits, tricks and amazing music made with pipes and other nontraditional instruments and lots and lots of paint.

That was my favorite part of it all. I love music but now what I like seeing even more is paint poured into a drum that is then banged on for the purpose of making art. It was a complete correlation of sound and movement. The harder the strike against the drum, the higher the paint rose. It’s basic physics at its finest and most fun. They then held a canvas above the drum and let the music paint the picture.

Let it be known that if a patron arrives to the show late, the Blue Men will stop what they are doing and stare at the latecomers. An effective method judged by the looks on the late arrivals’ faces and it proved a silent stare can be worse than a loud heckle.

That was a fun show and funnier when the three blue men took a ‘volunteer,’ put him in a white-although footless-jumpsuit with a helmet and tied his feet together to something that can only be described as a small crane. The volunteer’s jumpsuit was then painted in this gorgeous shade of blue and smacked up against a life-size, blank canvas.

And it wasn’t just one smack, it was at least two and surrounding the volunteer’s blue painted aura was a radiant pink outline. Blue Man Group gave him the work of art to which he was the subject.

 

HAILEY:

While all that may seem harsh, the Blue Men are able to get away with it. I had seen their show before and every time I do, I have a great time. They remind me of kids. Every skit that comes along they approach with a genuine curiosity and child-like wonder. When one of them caught a gumball full of paint in his mouth, then spit it on a canvas to make art, another tried the same with a marshmallow and seemed genuinely sad when it didn’t work. So he just stuck it on there and held it up waiting for applause. Some of the funniest moments were when they tried to one-up each other, like tweenage brothers.

Another ‘volunteer’ was pulled on stage and each one kept trying to impress her with something new. When one Blue Man brought out a desk lamp, another brought out a bug zapper and held it up as if to say, “Ha, mine’s better!”

And we learned some history. As they were tying the volunteer up by his ankles, they showed a short video about the painter they were emulating. Yves Klein was a French painter whose style involved painting a naked female body in blue paint, laying or dragging that body on the canvas , which he called a “living brush” and then spraying another layer of paint as an outline. He called this work anthropometry and felt it perfectly captured the human spirit and aura.

As the Blue Men smacked the volunteer against the canvas, the live rock band who had been accompanying them the whole show played their loudest yet when the final piece was completed.

 

RUT:

But needless to say, his shoes were ruined.

 

HAILEY:

He can buy new shoes and he got a lovely souvenir for his dining room.

 

RUT:

By the end of the night, the stage was devastated.

The Blue Men acted out skits that included foods like Captain Crunch and Twinkies and mashed up bananas and although comical, they made a mess of the stage. It was as if children were playing…full-grown, blue-costumed, alien-looking children who entertained their viewers whimsically.

The grand finale was definitely one for the books. Music was played to a parody of various terms for a person’s rear end and the audience was told to get up and “shake it.” So up I did stand and yes, I shook it to the beat of the music. Not seconds later were mega-sized bouncy balls that the audience had to keep airborne. It was not until the show was officially over that the overhead speaker said, “We’d like our balls back.”

 

HAILEY:

Covered in tissue paper string I made my way out of row Q and mulled over what I’d just experienced. A Blue Man posed for pictures and the band stood in the lobby collecting donations for AIDS research. So far, they’ve raised $4 million.

 

RUT:

It was fun, interactive theater and next time, I’ll be prepared. I’m coming in clothes and shoes that I don’t mind getting splattered in paint.