Remember when The Blue Man Group was edgy? Three guys with blue faces and no expressions playing weird music on instruments made from materials from the home supply store?
Yeah, me too.
But I guess after a bunch of years performing, they have given up edgy and innovative for kitschy.
I saw them Saturday afternoon at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Andrew Jackson Hall.
I enjoyed their performance art. But, I was disappointed at the performance as well as the failure of the stage manager to adapt their set to the confines of a smaller theater.
If you click the link above you will see an interactive presentation of the venue. The priciest seats, of course, are on the main floor near the stage. Our season tickets are mid-range pricey in the Loge section which is the hangy-down seating on the left and right of the theater. The least pricey seats are the “Tier” (mezzanine) and Balcony is the least pricey. Prices range from $73 each to $32.50 per person.
For those prices every seat should be able to see all of the performers and the entire performance. Right?
As with most touring entertainment, many of the supporting performers on platforms above the stage. The light show originates above the main performers, the video screens are high above.
The Blue Man Group show was all of the above.
From the right loge section, all we could see was the stage floor. We could see the Blue Man Group just fine. But the musicians on the platforms could only be seen from the waist down. From our right loge seats, we could only see one non-blue musician. Forget the musician on stage left. Invisible. Since we were looking down on the stage, the large screen electronic displays were hidden by lighting fixtures.
Too big a show – even for this large venue. Only the rich kids in the pricey seats enjoyed the full effect.
Here’s my real problem. As you might expect from a show…
blissful party atmosphere created at the live events has become the trademark of a Blue Man Group experience.
…they failed because only front half of the main floor was involved.
No, I don’t expect them to grab audience members from the loge, tier or balcony, but for the finale which should have been mind-boggling, I felt like a kid standing outside the door looking through the glass. Giant (ten feet(?) in diameter) lighted balls were bounding around the main floor propelled by the audience, giant wind machines were blowing mammoth rolls of tissue paper into the audience below us, streamers shot from cannons were gently floating down on the party below.
Those of us above could only wish to be participating. We were left out. That isn’t the performer’s fault, it is the stage manager’s fault. Somehow, Blue Man Group needs to involve the whole theater. It could be done. It used to be that way. In Nashville, it wasn’t.
The Tennessean critic was wrong when he wrote:
the colorful finale provides a big finish that has the audience fully engaged in the fun.
Only the main floor near the stage was “fully engaged.” The rest of us only could watch and smile and wish we were having as much fun as they.
The thrill of Blue Man Group is the ingenuity of their instruments. They have stopped innovating their musicianship and instruments. Instead they have turned kitschy and fallen back to late-night style, lame jokes about texting, and tweeting, and a “GiPad.”
The music was thin, seemingly only a segueway for the visual tricks made available through lighting and technology. But even the technology was fairly ordinary lighting effects that almost every stage performer uses.
The ingenuity and creativeness that launched The Blue Man Group is missing.
The Blue Man Group I wanted was guys pounding on ordinary things to make music. Or using light in new mind-bending ways, or both.
Oh it was great when it happened, it just didn’t happen often enough.
That’s the best of Blue Man Group. I’m glad I saw the show. I would have left thrilled if I could have been even just slightly involved in the party.
Bring back this Blue Man Group…