Blue Man Group storms Charlotte with high order physical comedy
Posted on 20 Apr 2011 by Michael J. Solender
In the tradition of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers, The Blue Man Group elevates physical comedy to a high art form relying on sight gags, playful props and synchronized movements. Unlike their comedic predecessors however, BMG has 21st century technology and multi-media gadgetry that add an over-the-top wow factor. Their 100 minute, no intermission performance at the Belk Tuesday night was a wild ride designed to appeal to the primitive brain in all of us.
This is theater that you don’t have to think about to enjoy. Like laughing at a man slipping on a banana peel, the schadenfreude we each experience at the ceaseless pratfalls, missteps and goofs from our neon royal blue trio cut to the core of what we find funny in the familiar experience of being human.
Make no mistake, this is a sophisticated, meticulously choreographed series of sketches and audience participation gags. The blue boys demonstrate impeccable timing yet show they can improv with the best of them while walking amongst the audience, snatching an attractive blond twenty-something to the stage and playfully incorporating her into a Twinkie-eating fun fest. This all transpires while being filmed in real time for immediate playback to the packed house at the Belk.
The troupe fronts three men on stage though travels with a seven person ensemble of Blue men including Charlotte native General Fermon Judd. The triumvirate is surrounded by a bass thumping, hard rocking band atop the tricked out proscenium. The ear splitting accompaniment walked a fine line between being too loud for the elders in the crowd and not loud enough for the tiny tot set that was there in force on Tuesday. A very kid friendly show perfectly timed for spring break saw scads of grade-schoolers lapping up every minute of the fun-house that was on hand.
Percussionists extraordinaire, the Blue Men show deft comic touch in drumming their way through an intense set that features the now legendary marshmallow tossing, spin-art painting, a human “paint brush” and fast action interplay with animated/video versions of themselves.
Filling a theater the size of the Belk with no dialogue and only three primary individuals on stage is a mean feat. Blue Man Group is aided by wildly creative use of Jumbotron style animation employing a series of LED screens programmed with everything from animated dancers to appearing as mega-huge iphones.
Blue Man Group is not a show where audience members sit back and watch. From the pre-show chanting and audience recognition to the command performance and series of well established rock concert moves, Blue Man has the place jumping and adrenaline pumping. Nowhere more so then in the penultimate number where we are compelled to get out of our seats, shake our collective behinds to a pulse pounding beat and toss several giant day-glo beach balls throughout the arena.
Blue Man Group is five cups of coffee, three roller coaster rides and a 4 wide ZMax race all rolled into one.