The unmistakable paint coated trio known simply as the Blue Man Group is a perfect marriage of colour and story. It is an immersive experience that serenades the audience with blue, yet crafts a tale of rainbow-like proportions. Most delightfully, Blue Man Group places the audience at the heart of the performance, not just through music or acting, but by glorifying the often overlooked day-to-day spontaneity which ultimately forms our shared human experience.
Often recognised more for their outlandish appearance, the truly remarkable Blue Man Group has the ability to challenge audiences to think, while doing so in a manner that resonated emotionally and humorously. Throughout the show, audiences were challenged to reconsider existing perceptions of music and its origins. In the opening act, it was unsurprising that the group chose to use traditional musical instruments to complement dance and acting. Music was the backdrop, the accompaniment, the secondary element.
However, gradually, unorthodox sound-creating objects like water pipes were introduced. The excellent Blue Man deliberately experimented with these objects, hitting them at awkward intervals and with different degrees of strength. The surprise on their faces as they slowly began creating patterns of sound belied the amount of effort spent rehearsing, but resembled the expression of a composer producing a masterpiece for the first time. These subtler cues collectively produced a believable experience, while the ability to create music with unconventional objects radically liberated the audience to discover that music is art, accessible to all and not only the creation of legendary men or classy instruments. Towards the end, a melodious piece was produced using water pipes, and this time, no longer a secondary element – music took center-stage. It is definitely something you wouldn’t expect from a show of Vegas fame.
The Blue Man Group is essentially also a commitment to put the audience at the heart of every act, every action, and every interaction. Jumping off the stage frequently, the 3 Blue Man scoured the audience for an unsuspecting person, their intensely blue stares causing nervous feet shuffles in some, and inspiring enthusiastic screams and waving hands from others. A middle aged man was picked, given marshmallows, and whom then proceeded to throw it into the mouth of a Blue Man standing some distance away. Rounds of applause for the agile Blue Man followed, but nothing was comparable to the contrasting reactions of the audience and the middle aged man when the Blue Man attempted to return the chewed Marshmallows – Raucous laughter from the former, a look of amused disgust from the latter. The Blue Man Group followed that up with the traditional Twinkie performance, inviting another unsuspecting audience member to engage in (not so) fine dining with them. Using a Twinkie snack, they produced an entertaining act, sometimes fumbling awkwardly as they tried to cut the Twinkie classily, other times giving awkward stares at the audience member while waiting for a response.
For a performing arts group founded in 1991, one could not be blamed for wondering whether the performance was at all out of date. Surprisingly, the group succeeded in leveraging existing fads and trends to create a show which resonated. Day to day experiences were replicated and made fun of on stage, and the most remarkable part was how the group had been able to reinvent the show even after more than 2 decades, achieving a level of cultural relevance that was impressive. For example, a live demonstration of a typical mobile game application was interrupted by advertisements which appeared non-stop, even after clicking the ‘X’ button. Audiences laughed at the comedic reactions by the Blue Men, but what was truly exceptional was the relationship that was being cultivated between actors and audience. People believed them, and felt a unity with the Blue Man by virtue of witnessing an experience so familiar, so universal and so common.
Selfies too, was a recurring element in the show that was used generously to create interaction and to cultivate that relationship. Live cameras enhanced the experience by creating a transcendent, inception-like performance, where the Blue Man took live selfies and videos with the audience, while still remaining in character throughout. Most of the audiences in the front rows were clamouring for the opportunity to take a selfie with a Blue Man, and the theatre roared delightfully when the Blue Man obliged.
To top it off, the show ended on a high note, as large and colourful inflated balls were released into the audience to bounce around and play with. Long streaks of confetti showered the audience, as vibrant music and an assortment of colourful lights turned the theatre into an almost hypnotizing, magical and dreamlike setting. Audiences may have entered the theatre seeing blue, but left seeing, hearing, feeling and remembering an entire spectrum of colours, both figuratively and literally.
Shows last till 10 April. Tickets selling out fast. Ticketing details for the show can be found here
Written by: Tan Yang Long
Photos by: Lester Foo for WhatsNextSG