Review: Direct from the 1980s, Blue Man Group Stays Relevant

by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday May 26, 2022

Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group  

With origins harking back to 1988, it can be a surprise that a group of performance artists is still relevant today. But this trio of non-speaking, curious, bald blue men have been gracing New York, Boston, and Chicago stages, and, believe it or not, still touring today. Of course, the original three men of "Blue Man Group" aren't the same, and neither is the show. Well, sort of. 

Ending its regular 2021-2022 season, Providence Performing Arts Center gives us a fun turn in the crowd-pleasing, percussive, audience participation gem. Performers Meridian, Mike Brown, and Steven Wendt helm the show with antics like stuffing as many food items in their mouths as they can and then fashioning art, the result of which was to play cupid with two audience members (male and female) in one fun sequence. A band is on hand to help these three who love drumming; percussion is the way to excite the viewers and set the tone.

But it's a curious blend of music and performance art that makes Blue Man Group an enduring classic that, perhaps, most have seen at this point. For those that haven't, it can be a hit or miss. This kind of show is difficult to describe to someone who isn't familiar with it, yet they might not know what they're missing. Perhaps the secret ingredient can be found in the requirements for becoming member: Be between five-foot-ten to six-foot-one, an excellent drummer, and (most critically) be able to emote wordlessly. 

The latest incarnation has a busy stage setting: Platforms adorned with digital lighting effects, the walls covered in industrial sound meters and looking very retro, yet pleasing to the eyes. A busy stage, to be sure, but our blue guys seem right at home. In the past there has been more audience interaction than here; perhaps a post-COVID theatrical world has neutered the show in that regard. Gone are the oversized balloons tossed into the crowds for mutual tossing about; stringing up one lucky (or unlucky) audience member and spray painting him or her against a canvas seems off the table, as well. 

But this show is ripe for change. If something totally avant garde for the 1980s can evolve and become an international phenomenon, this show is it. The key here is to sit back and watch: Lights, sounds, and visuals tell the story, if there is one to tell. And if you think three nonverbal guys can't be really funny, think again. "Blue Man Group" is just plain fun, and now that live theater is back, why not experience it all over again?

"Blue Man Group" played May 20-22 at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset Street, Providence RI 02903. For information or tickets call 401-421-2787 or visit www.ppacri.org.