Regional Reviews: Cincinnati
Over the years, Cincinnati has seen its share of non-traditional shows as part of their Broadway Seriessuch as Stomp, Riverdance, Blast and Cirque Dreamswhich take a specific art form and present it in a theatrical context. Blue Man Group is the latest of these non-traditional theatrical experiences seen on tour, and by far the most difficult to categorize or describe. The ingenuity, excitement, and unexpected entertainment value makes this an audience delight.
Blue Man Group features three on-stage performers sporting bald caps and bright blue paint, and portraying humanoids. Through a mix of routines and vignettes which rotate through experimental musical percussion performances, comedy bits featuring the humanoids' social awkwardness and often involving audience members, and skits melding performance art with multimedia, the performers and writers create a fun, varied and engaging experience for theatergoers. Whether the routines involving mouth painting (and impressive mouth catches of either marshmallows or paint balls), drumming on ever-changing pieces of plumbing, a hilarious dinner party with an audience member, or the integration of performers with animated images on massive iPhones, the art is unique and accomplished.
The performers consist of Chris Smith, Russell Rinker, James Marlowe and Shane Andries, and though I list four "Blue Men," only three appear on stage at any one time. It's impossible to say who did what since none of them ever speak and they all look the same, but they each display first rate musicianship, gifted physical comedic abilities, and wonderful characterizations. Musical Director Chris Reiss leads a rockin' four piece on-stage band.
The show greatly benefits from the spectacle of a wide array of lighting designs by Joel Moritz and video displays by Caryl Glaab. Director Marcus Miller keeps the pace fast and furious in this intermission-less show.
Blue Man Group isn't your typical touring show, and is a significant departure from the musicals and plays normally seen as part of the Broadway Series. It is continuously entertaining, surprising, and artistically rewarding. The show continues at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio through October 28, 2012. For more information and tickets, call (513) 621-ARTS.-- Scott Cain