Blue Man Mania
By Dale King
Blue Man Group – the frenetically mute crew of three guys clad in cobalt bald caps and head-to-toe body paint – was the 1987 brainchild of Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton in the streets of Manhattan. The founders’ idea of populating a stage with three indigo-headed men who speak nary a word, bang out rhythms on plastic plumbing supplies, splash fluorescent paint into the audience, and stuff their pieholes with gads of marshmallows and cereal, grew out of extensive discussions over various libations with friends who, like them, were tired of the humdrum drama scene of the 1980s.
To counter that culture, Wink, Goldman and Stanton concocted shows and concerts that abound in experimental music (emphasizing percussion), bizarre comedy, multimedia and just plain silly stuff.
Two Decades of Serious Success
Today, the rampant popularity of the bizarre bunch has grown into a national theatrical phenomenon. Since first hitting the stage in New York, Blue Man Group has played to audiences as small as 300 and as large as 100,000.
They perform loud music, employ odd props, and prank people in the audience with cannonball loads of recycled confetti and rolls of toilet tissue.
Russell Rinker, who joined the Blue Man franchise after a 2002 audition in Chicago, says, “It’s amazing what you can say by saying nothing. Being a Blue Man transcends language and cultural boundaries, age and race.”
Rinker and other folks from the Blue Man ensemble are currently on the road in the group’s second 10-month North American tour that swings through Miami May 13-18, 2014.
A Blue Man show is typically atypical, Rinker says. “We go out into the audience and climb on chairs. We bring people up on the stage. There are things you can do when you’re in Blue Man makeup that you wouldn’t do as yourself.”
To keep their show material fresh and dynamic, Blue Men often take to the streets with stage makeup intact to experiment with varied art and comedy forms. People approach these innocent, childlike, blue-topped creatures without a hint of trepidation. “They pull out their phones and take pictures with us,” Rinker says.
The new tour includes some classic Blue Man bits. “We catch marshmallows in our mouths, drum vats of glow-in-the-dark paint and make weird faces,” Rinker says. But the performance also abounds with new material that maintains the blue guys’ obvious illusion of innocence.
The shows are family-oriented, humorous and energetically crazed. But regardless of the tumult on stage, says Rinker, “The Blue Man characters are always the focus.”
To find details about tickets, venues and showtimes, go to www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.