Blue Man Group rocks the Hippodrome
The celebrated troupe, created by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, has entertained some 17 million people across the globe since debuting nearly 20 years ago. This Baltimore appearance -- performances run through Sunday -- marks the first national tour of the theatrical version that has been a fixture in New York, Las Vegas and other places. It’s a big, loud, funny, silly, visually arresting production.
Tuesday’s opening night crowd, which gave every indication of arriving fully prepared and stoked for the experience, enjoyed superbly timed performances by Kalen Allmandinger, Josh Elrod and General Fermon Judd as the blue men. (Four players, including Mark Frankel, take turns in the lead trio roles during the run.)
There’s no point in trying to classify what these performers, with their trademark blue faces and bald, ear-less heads, do onstage for the better part of 90 minutes. It’s much easier to go with the flow — and duck down in your seat when those guys start roaming the aisles in search of audience volunteers. (Late-comers may have a much harder time remaining incognito.)
In a way, you could say that Blue Man Group represents
Looking awfully alien, yet ever so one-of-us at the same time, the blue men celebrate percussive effects and messy projectiles with the glee of a defiant teenager; splashing paint, vomited marshmallows and spewing Twinkies play notable roles here. These guys are animated by hard rock and the bossa nova to an almost equal degree. They just want to have fun, and they’re keen to share it.
The high-tech production includes many a brilliant effect, yet some of the most telling moments come from the simplest devices, such as PVC pipes, used to amusing rhythmic and melodic ends.
Periodic bursts of satiric wit are supplied by video and voice-over. One memorably sharp sequence is an ad for a “GiPad,” boasting three screens-worth of truncated literature — a “Synposize Me” version of “War and Peace” is down to seven sentences — that promise “to do for reading what texting has done for driving.”
You’ve just got to love a show that can mingle satire and regurgitation with such aplomb.
PHOTO BY KEN HOWARD