Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Blue Man Group
Also see Susan's review of A Midsummer Night's Dream
This worldwide phenomenon has been around since 1987, but its creative team has kept up with technical advancements. The Blue Men performers on the tour are Meridian, Mike Brown, Steven Wendt, and Adam Zuick, of whom three (not identified) participate in each performance.
Set designer Jason Ardizzone-West has created a vast, technologically advanced playground for the performers, who paint their faces and hands a bright blue and perform without speaking. Abstract images and unreadable lines of text appear on banks of computer screens, illuminated by lighting designer Jen Schriever's sweeping streams of light and vivid rhythmic designs. Throughout the 80-minute show, musicians Corky Gainsford, Chris Reiss, and Chris Schultz join the Blue Men in performing an eclectic score by Andrew Schneider and Jeff Turlik.
So, then, what do these Blue Men do? They encourage audience participation, which may include tossing marshmallows into the orchestra and inviting viewers to meow on cue. They play on a variety of percussion instruments, at times some of them topped off with paint (this is where the ponchos come in). They leave the stage and integrate live video, they use found objects such as plumbing pipe to create new types of musical expression, they throw (non-dangerous) things at each other, they produce on-the-fly works of visual art, at times they prowl the audience looking for people willing to join them onstage. (At this performance, the gimmicks included handcuffs and three rubber chickens.) And even though it may seem at times that the show is over, that may not be true.
Blue Man Group on Tour runs through July 31, 2022, in the Eisenhower Theater, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Written by Jonathan Knight, Michael Dahlen, and Blue Man Group