Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - October 4, 2013
Blue dudes and more!
When we walked into McCain Auditorium on the Kansas State University campus last Thursday evening, we immediately noticed the first few rows had clear plastic ponchos draped over the seats. I leaned over to daughter Katie and said I was glad we weren't in those rows.
"Me, too," she said. "I'm not afraid of getting splattered, but I really like my green top and I don't want to get paint on it."
I had read enough about Blue Man Group to know that the characters in the production are painted blue and that paint and other non-toxic materials they use in their show might reach audience members. But other than that, I wasn't really familiar with what they were about, even though they have been around for 26 years. I purposely stayed away from Internet research before we went because I wanted to experience the show without having any preconceived notion about it.
Our seats were about seven rows back from the stage and along with daughter Mariya and daughter-in-law Lacey, we settled in to be entertained.
And entertained we were! I found the show to be a wild, funny, fascinating, joyous, colorful celebration filled with a lot of audience interaction with the three main characters.
At one point, one Blue Man threw white marshmallows at another one, who caught them in his mouth. Then he tossed colored candies at the third Blue Man, who caught those in his mouth, chewed a bit and then spurted the colors onto a spinning canvas. The one with marshmallows stuffed them into his mouth until he finally had enough to spit them into a marshmallow tower. He promptly smacked a dollar sign onto the tower, silently proclaiming its artistic value. The Blue Men gave the painting to a young boy on the first row, and placed the tower into a woman's purse.
Later, they brought an audience member onto the stage, where they helped him into a jumpsuit to cover his clothes. Then they covered him in blue paint, hoisted him up with ropes and smacked him onto a large canvas. Voilą! Another work of art!
The Blue Men poured paint onto drums and began beating them with drum sticks, causing the paint to shower them and the stage. Various drums, PVC pipes and other percussion instruments were used throughout the show.
In another skit, a woman was pulled up to the stage to sit with the three Blue Men. One man brought out flowers, the second brought out a candle and the third put a painting up behind them. The woman helped them open bags of Twinkies and then they carefully cut them into bite-size pieces and ate them as if they were having an elegant dinner.
A sort of innocence did come through in their expressions. With no spoken language, Blue Man Group could appeal to people of all ages, languages and cultures. Katie said she thought they acted like "cute little aliens who came to experience our world."
She said one of her favorite skits was when the three pulled out boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal and noisily ate it. One of the characters ended up with the cereal all over his face. The other two pointed to their lips and their foreheads to let him know that he might want to wipe it off.
One of my favorites was when three GiPads (giant iPads) were lowered from the ceiling onto the stage. Each had a different message, but we were told to read them at the same time. It was a good illustration of how hooked on technology we've become and how we're always trying to multi-task.
Mariya enjoyed the dancing at the end of the show.
"I was looking forward to the performance, but had no idea what to expect. While I enjoyed all the percussion techniques, I was also impressed by the social commentary about our connection and obsession with technology. By far my favorite part was the last song aptly titled 'Shake Your Euphemism' where everyone was tasked with getting out of their seats to shake their 'sit-biscuits.' You don't have to tell me to dance twice. Especially when sweet beats are playing. I also enjoyed the wide range of titles for one's back buns, but my favorites were the 'fun-cooker,' 'your Frodo,' 'sonic booms,' and 'horn section.'"
Lacey didn't have any idea what the show would be like beforehand, but she liked the dancing at the end when four- to five-foot lighted balls and streamers were launched into the audience.
"I didn't know what to expect other than some creepy blue dudes, but it was great. The optical illusions, music and comedy made for a wonderful show. It was hilarious! And anything that ends with an awesome dance party is perfect in my book! And I have so many new names for the booty now!"
Katie's favorite "booty" names were "JLo's" and "second face."
As for me, well, I found myself alternating between laughing so hard I could hardly stay standing and moving my own horn section.
We were not allowed to take pictures, but these photos from the Blue Man Group website are similar to what we saw at the K-State performance on Sept. 26. Left, the Blue Men launched large balls into the audience, and we were expected to keep them in the air until we pushed them back to the stage. Right, members of the Blue Man Group beat drums on which they had poured paints.