LIVE: VIDEO AND POLITICS

Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:03
Last Days For Blue Men Group In New Orleans
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blue-manBy Dean M. Shapiro

You’ve never seen anything like it. And, chances are, you never will unless it’s by these same guys. Combining sight gags with innovative, imaginative props and the very latest in high-tech visuals and audio, Blue Man Group is 21st century entertainment at its futuristic best.

 To repeat an observation I made in a review of another recent show, “This simply has to be seen to be believed. And, even then, you can’t be sure you’re really seeing what you’re seeing.”

But don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself. The fourth of five shows staged this season in New Orleans by Broadway Across America, Blue Man Group will be performing through Sunday, February 5 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in Louis Armstrong Park. Show times are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Good seats are still available.

All shows are an hour and a half in length with no intermission, thankfully. A break in the show’s action would spoil the continuity. Content is appropriate for all ages.

A summary of some of the stunts these guys pull off – several of which involve the participation of audience members – would not spoil the viewing experience for anyone who hasn’t seen the show yet but would like to. Reading about these things is not the same as actually seeing them in person. They still must be seen. And among these stunts are

  • Drumming rhythmically on paint cans and stirring up a spray of bright colors
  • Catching gum balls in their mouths thrown from 25 feet away
  • Drumming on plastic PVC pipes to achieve strange sounds, often by sliding sections up and down like the slide on a trombone, and performing on other oddly devised musical instruments
  • Feasting on Hostess Twinkies, “regurgitating” them and continuing to eat the mess
  • Juggling squares of cardboard with paint on them to create unique, colorful designs
  • Tossing possibly the world’s largest beach balls, lit up in bright techno-colors, into the audience amid a spray of streamers accompanied by a cacophony of sound that would make a ‘70s disco sound like the inside of a library

And more . . . ! MUCH more!!

Without saying a word or uttering a sound, the cast members of Blue Man Group (there are six of them in alternating roles but never more than three are onstage at the same time) convey exactly what they’re trying to say verbally through facial expressions that range from deadpan, to puzzlement, to assent. Their actions, to repeat an overused expression, speak louder than words. They are Chaplin-like vaudevillian pantomimes transported into a futuristic milieu and the combination fits together seamlessly.

The Blue Man concept originated in the late 1980s in New York when friends Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink put on the blue paint and took their act to the streets and parks of the Big Apple. Their act caught on quickly and soon they were on stage, in the recording studio and on tour. The trio has since “franchised out” the show, taking top billing for the creation, writing and direction of each show but hiring other actors to handle the physical roles. With their faces and skullcapped heads covered with blue paint, you can’t distinguish one performer from another which, of course, works out to the performers’ advantage in some ways. Reviewers will find it nearly impossible to single out individual performances and will be forced to evaluate the show as a whole.

With that in mind, and unable to single out any individual performers, all I can do is name the performers, in alphabetical order, and note that each one was fabulous. They are Kalen Allmandinger, Kirk Massey, Peter Musante, Michael Rahhal, Bhurin Sead and Brian Tavener.

The musicians accompanying the performance, all six of them, also deserve their props for keeping up with the guys. Given the fast pace and constant changes taking place on stage, that task could not have been easy. So, a round of applause for Julian Cassanetti, Jerry Kops, Michael A. Petrucci, Chris Reiss, Randy Roustom and Clement J. Waldmann III.

And, to the next tier of supporting cast - Joel Moritz (production and lighting design), Chase Tyler (costume design) and Matt Koenig (sound design) - a great big BRAVO! for making this show the audio-visual extravaganza that it is.

To purchase tickets for upcoming Blue Man Group shows call Ticketmaster at 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or order from their website, www.ticketmaster.com. You can also call the Mahalia Jackson Theater box office at 504-287-0351or visit their website, http://mahaliajacksontheater.com/ticket-info/box-office.

For more information about Blue Man Group visit their website at www.blueman.com. To view a sample video of them in action and being interviewed in street clothes, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLC6849FB1858A3311&v=giGbBw0iJH8&feature=player_embedded#!

Other sample videos are viewable on the Blue Man Group website.

NEXT UP . . .

The Lion King

Single tickets are on sale for the Broadway Across America production of The Lion King, which opens on March 14 and runs through April 15.

Based on the multi-award-winning Disney animated feature, you will experience the phenomenon of this heartwarming story. You will marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by a cast of more than 40 actors. Award-winning director Julie Taymor created visual images for this show that you'll remember forever. And, above all, you will thrill to the pulsating rhythms of the African Pridelands and an unforgettable score including Elton John and Tim Rice's Oscar-winning song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and the equally memorable "Circle of Life."

Tickets can also be ordered by calling 1-800-218-7469 or purchased at the theater box office in Louis Armstrong Park. Early purchase is encouraged, as this is shaping up as the most popular, in-demand show of the current Cultural Season.

For more information about individual shows go to the Broadway Across America website at http://neworleans.broadway.com/shows/lion-king-baa/.



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