Three blue faces. What is the first thing that pops into your head? Most likely your mind is already picturing the wide eyed stares of the Blue Man Group because there’s no group quite like them. Besides the blue painted faces being a dead giveaway, the group is known for their loud, colorful, mixed media shows.
BLUE MAN GROUP at Briar Street Theater Revamps the Show
For twenty years the BLUE MAN GROUP has graced the stage at the Briar Street Theater here in Chicago. And for those twenty years, the show has gone through minor changes - some adaptations here and there. But really, there hasn’t been any major changes for five or six years.
However, recent announced changes meant the show was getting new content. Upon arriving at the theater, it looks the same if you’ve been to the show before. Pipes and tubes of different colors drape around the ceiling. The musician’s booth is still above a screen to the right side of the stage. And punchy jokes flash across the message screens during pre-show.
Then comes the familiar percussions the BLUE MAN GROUP is known for. It still drives the excitement within you as you prepare for a show filled with antics. The show continues on like normal with a few differences.
Those annoying ads that pop up during games on your phone? They incorporate those into their giant iPhone bit except this time, you’ll see very Chicago specific ads like Willis Tower Naming Contest, or Segway Tours Around the Bean.
Think you’ve had enough of selfie sticks? Think again because the audience gets to take a giant selfie with the men as well.
These were a minor changes compared to other bits that were re-worked completely. In the previous version, animated characters texted each other asking if there was a way to become real. Answering that question were the men in light up suits with these animated characters somehow brought to life.
Now, it’s a PSA for texting and walking as the audience watches these animations fall down manholes and cars run over them while they’re not paying attention. It’s followed by the men in the same light up suits, but now flash on and off with their choreography.
The other major change was the ending. Before, the crowd is encouraged to stand on its feet and shake their booties. Now, the song calls for everyone to come together and dance. All these people in the audience, whether their Chicago natives or tourists, whether they’ve seen the show before or it’s their first time, they all come together under strobe lights and giant beach balls to dance and have this extraordinary experience.
Not Much Has Changed, But Why Fix What’s Not Broken?
The changes made to the show were different technical elements to change with the times. The core arrangement of the show remains the same. So if you visited the show ten years ago, you’ll recognize most all the different events in the show. But hey, if it worked ten years ago and the group can still pack a house, why change what works?
The BLUE MAN GROUP still maintains that spontaneity and wide eyed innocence that has become their trademark all over the globe. But still, no two shows are alike because of the little details.
Speaking with one of the Blue Men after the show, he described his acting process as never thinking the same action will work every single night for each new audience. It’s never thinking about how you might react, rather being present in the moment and reacting as it happens.
There’s a reason BLUE MAN GROUP has succeeded all these years and will continue to do so. It is still unlike any other show because of its paint splatters and PVC pipe playing. The men are still hilarious as they share looks of curiosity and bewilderment. Their fancy Twinkie dinner with a guest from the audience never gets old. Even if some things don’t change, it’s still a party and a celebration that is worth going to see.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
The BLUE MAN GROUP has no end to their run
The Briar Street Theater
3133 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657
Tickets may be purchased at the Briar Street Theatre by calling the box office at (773) 348-4000; by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787; at all Ticketmaster ticket centers or via the Internet at www.ticketmaster.com/bluemanchicago. For a full show schedule and ticket pricing, please visit www.blueman.com/chicago.
Courtesy of the BLUE MAN GROUP