The bottom line
My 13-year-old daughter and I agreed that The Blue Man Group — playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre until Sunday, April 3 — lives up to its billing as a “comedy, theater, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one.” It’s tough to categorize the Blue Man experience; at times it felt like a tech-infused variety show, with lots of audience participation and interaction between the Blue Men and the entire audience. My daughter declared that the show is “Loud, but really funny and awesome.” I concur. Since the Blue Men don’t speak, the action is all visual and aural, which makes it accessible for kids of all ages (except for those sensitive to loud rock music or loud sound generally and strobe and other intense light effects.)
The “poncho section” of the Blue Man Group show at the Paramount lets you know you’re in for something different. It quickly becomes clear why audience members in the first few rows (atop the closed-off orchestra pit) don the provided plastic ponchos. The Blue Men get to live out a kid’s dream of banging on cool drums (some that look like Rube Goldberg contraptions made of PVC pipes), being gross (molded a marshmallow sculpture in your mouth lately?) and generally making a mess.
For the uninitiated, The Blue Man Group was founded 25 years ago by three performers in New York City. There are now some 75 Blue Men worldwide with permanent productions in Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston, Chicago, New York and Berlin; The Blue Man Group show has performed in 15 countries and been seen by more than 35 million people worldwide since its debut in 1991. The show performing in Seattle, on a North American tour for six years and about to go on a worldwide tour, showcases classic Blue Man favorites and new content (shows are continually updated).
A few snapshots from the show: With a live rock band onstage providing a backdrop, the Blue Men make music through amplified crunching of Cap’n Crunch cereal (shoved by the fistful into their mouths); create splatter art by pouring paint from a stomach valve in their costumes onto the drums’ surface (which shoots up geyser-like onto a canvas when they play the drums); and turn an audience member (zipped into a protective suit) into a “human paintbrush” by hanging him by his heels, coating him in paint and (gently) launching him against a giant canvas.
Some humor will go over younger kids’ heads (like the jokes about mobile phones and the surveillance state scrolling across LED screens at the start of the show). But the Blue Men are remarkably expressive — their silence aside, they are masters of physical comedy. They are akin to child-like aliens, reacting to the audience (and the audience reactions) with wonder. Just watching the Blue Men climb over the audience seats in search of their “volunteers” made us crack up. One of our favorite vignettes involved a female audience participant, ushered onstage to a restaurant-like set, where she and the Blue Men shared a Twinkie meal, during which plates were swapped, half-eaten Twinkies offered, and a fire extinguisher and shop-vac came into play.
It’s an immersive experience: Marshmallows are lobbed into the audience, cameras beam back audience images onto the stage, and onstage screens direct audience members to dance, wave their arms and say goofy things. At the end, in the dance-party segment, giant inflatable lit-up colored balls are launched into the audience (like beach balls at an outdoor rock concert) and the Blue Men shoot out paper streamers from cannon-like contraptions. The inevitable “balls” jokes ensue as an off-stage voice implores the audience to gently return them without undue squeezing.
Did I mention this show is loud? Bring your own earplugs if you or your kids are at all sound sensitive (free foam earplugs are distributed in the lobby, but we found they were essentially useless).
As far as age recommendation, Paramount Theatre policy says babes in arms are not allowed and children under 4 are discouraged. The Blue Man Group website recommends the show for kids ages 3 and older.
If you go ...
Where: The Paramount Theatre is located at 911 Pine Street in Seattle.
When: Through Sunday, April 3; there are two shows on Saturday, April 2 (2 and 8 p.m.) and two shows on Sunday, April 3 (1 and 6:30 p.m.)
Length: The show runs 90 to 105 minutes (varies with audience participation) with no intermission.
Tickets: $35 and up. Buy online from STG Presents.
Tips: With no intermission, be sure to give yourself time to hit the always-crowded bathrooms before the show begins. Dahlia Bakery cookies, brownies and other pre-show snacks available (again, budget time for pre-show lines).