Cameron Crazies are not the only ones painting themselves blue this spring.
From March 15-20, the three performers of Blue Man Group, dressed in black and covered with blue grease paint, light up the Durham Performing Arts Center in a comedic, theatrical spectacle complete with animated dancers and a satirical rock show. The show marks the first Blue Man Group Megastar World Tour to travel North America.
Blue Man Group juxtaposes comedy, theater and live music in a sensational high-energy experience without uttering a single spoken word. The three characters rely on gag jokes, innuendo and audience participation to draw laughs. They account for their lack of speaking with impeccably timed head tilts, stares and nods. Flowing seamlessly from one to another, the series of skits and musical numbers is set against the backdrop of a full LED curtain and a high-resolution screen, introducing a modern element to the absurd.
From the onset, the performers shatter the fourth wall that separates the audience from the stage by using the overhead marquees as their personal soapboxes. (“Please refrain from texting. It makes the older people feel inadequate. Tweeting, however, is okay.”) The Blue Men continue to harass the audience by tossing candy, giving out original paint splatter works, soliciting volunteers and requesting all to stand and join the dance party.
The musical pieces are a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. In one scene, the Blue Men perform techno renditions of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” using an illuminated vibraphone. In another, they fill a set of drums with pink and yellow paint, which shoots up into the air every time a mallet strikes the drums.
The show touches on themes such as the advent of technology and the increasing self-isolation of human beings by emphasizing the absurdity of some modern gadgets. Several pieces center on three six-foot “GiPads,” a clever play on Apple’s iPad revolution. A quick scroll through the three GiPads reveals features such as “Twit that Lit!”—which gives one-liner summaries of classics—and a multitasking how-to guide. After the introduction, the Blue Men proceed to digitize themselves by leaping behind the GiPads and creating virtual backbeats, or soundtracks to their lives. The social commentary combined with an over-the-top presentation make these skits some of the most memorable of the night.
The final number requires a bit of physical exertion on the audience’s part, as the Blue Men politely request viewers to perform staple rock concert moves such as the “one-armed first pump” and “two-armed upper thrust with yell” against a backdrop of color and pounding music. Strobe lights, jets of streamers and ten floating globes fill the theater space, suggesting that even if some loneliness does exist in this world, we can always get up and dance.
Blue Man Group runs through March 20 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For tickets, showtimes and other information, visit dpacnc.com.