Hear me out: it’s a high-tech, science museum, painting thing, but like … also a concert.
The Blue Man Group opened its tour stop at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre tonight, and performs there through Sunday.
I’m pretty well-versed in Trends Of The ‘90s, especially musical ones. But the Blue Man Group passed me by. It seemed so distant, so spectacle for the sake of spectacle, a thing most at home in Las Vegas. And possibly Jupiter.
At its coolest, that’s exactly what Blue Man Group is. The way they play their famous paint-splaying drums and other made-up instruments — a telescoping set of giant PVC pipes (called a “Drumbone,” a cross between a drum and a trombone), for example — is other-worldly. The way they look around bewilderedly at the audience members and, often, each other, seems to confirm the suspicion that they dropped in from outer space. Their sense of wonder is endearing. It’s also a nice contrast to the giant wall of tech and booming things towering in the backdrop around them.
On those points, Blue Man Group puts on a hell of a show.
But in other parts it started dragging, and that’s really saying something for a beat-, splatter-, and contraption-filled show that comes in at under 90 minutes. The audience participation parts — where members of the audience were brought on stage or messed with from the stage — added intrigue, but only so far. Other points was just blue-faced people wandering the aisles. Those scenes, on stage and off, lingered without enough payoff.
The slow scenes are accentuated by the dynamism of the rest. When there are funny little skits that get laughs at a normal show, that’s a good thing. But those can’t match what Blue Man Group’s bread and butter is. If performers are thundering on drums with paint flying everywhere, or rocking out on invented instruments, do you really want to spend much time with audience members pulled up on stage, giggling and trading flowers and trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube? Of course not. Bring on the paint drums!
Blue Man Group attracts a really enthusiastic crowd: the main floor at the Paramount was bustling, and the people were happy. The happiest of all, though? The kids, who could be heard squealing in the back — “oh no!” at some appropriate point, and “best show ever!” at its conclusion.
It’s a fun-enough night out for some of us. But to be a real hero, bring a kid. You might make a forever arts fan.
Blue Man Group On Tour runs through 11/27 at The Paramount Theatre in Downtown Seattle. Tickets are $35-$125 plus fees, here. Accessibility notes: main restrooms downstairs and upstairs are gendered and multi-stall, with gender-neutral, single-stall restrooms on the main floor. Theatre and some common areas are wheelchair accessible.
Run time: 85 minutes, no intermission.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.