IT WAS a gloomy and wet night in Joburg. However, inside The Teatro theatre at Montecasino a different scene was playing out. Bursts of colour and a pounding resonance of drumming filled the theatre. All eyes were on the stage where spotlights illuminated three blue characters – the Blue Man Group. Covered in latex-like blue paint that dramatised their eyes, they were the stars of the night. These Grammy nominated performers own several residencies in the US and, in a span of 26 years, have collaborated with a range of artists, including Tiesto, Dave Matthews, Jill Scott and the Killers.
They have been seen by more than 35 million people in 15 countries over the years, an impressive achievement for a production that refused to box itself in any theatre genre. Founded by three friends out of college, Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, the Blue Man Group is now a entertainment phenomenon which appeals to a range of age groups and cultural backgrounds. Brought to South Africa by Big Concerts International – A Live Nation Company, their show is running in Joburg until March 5 before moving to Cape Town from March 21.
Their catchphrase “Dare to Live in Full Colour” perfectly describes what the audience can expect…an energy filled performance made up of comedy, theatre, a rock concert and dance party, all rolled into one. For 90 minutes, the Blue Man Group took us on a colourful journey of virtual reality, revealing the absurdity of a world we live in which is obsessed with technology, smartphones and social media but, at the same time, it highlighted the hidden beauty of our digital age.
Accompanied by a live band, the Blue Man Group uses custom instruments such as pipes and stateof-the-art technology and a comedic edge that had me grinning like a child. Time seems to pass too fast while watching the three performers get up to all kinds of mischief, using marshmallows, tinkies, paint and sound as props in numerous unique and creative ways.
Members of the audience seated in the first five rows are given plastic blue ponchos to wear to protect them from the paint and substances that fly off the stage. I enjoyed how interactive the show is as several members of the audience, which included musician Danny K, got to join in the fun on stage. The Blue Man Group use no spoken language, leaving music and their facial expressions to be their form of communication.
I loved how they adapted their set to include one of South Africa’s favourite songs Nkalakatha by the late South African kwaito singer Mandoza. Meridian, the Blue Man and Blue Man Captain says: “We try to play something unique for each audience because everywhere we go we are trying to forge a real and genuine connection with that audience and to explore the cultures that we are visiting; “We put in a little something in there so that the audience knows that we are there and that we know where we are.”
There is no script involved in putting together the production, but the music and the acts are passed on from one generation of a blue man to the next, ensuring that no two performances are the same.
Does the blue paint mean that they aliens? “We try to avoid to being referred to or labelled as aliens. This might sound a little strange but we describe ourselves as the ‘other’, but we are very much human. I think the blue man is like every man, as a blue man we kind of present some of the best parts about ourselves as humans.
“Our desire to connect with each other, our desire to celebrate life together. Our desire to be joyful together and to have experiences together. Once you strip away the blue paint and the neutral costumes, we sort of represent all this superficial details of being a human being. It’s easier to see the deeper things that connect all of us, that is what it’s all about,” says Meridian. The lifespan of a blue man varies from person to person, said Meridian.
“Some stay for a year, have a great time and move on to other projects. I have been doing this for about 11 years… it’s just a really wonderful experience. Watching the connection with the audience grow and taking the audience on a journey. “For me it’s just a magical experience, watching an audience member at the beginning of the show all sceptical and not knowing what to expect and watching that same person’s energy transform by the end of the show, enjoying the dance party. It’s a remarkable transformation for the audience and for us too because we go through it with them, and that is a great experience every, single time.”
JOBURG: Venue: Teatro at Montecasino Dates: Playing until March 5 Off-peak shows: Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening, Thursday evening and Sunday evening Peak shows: Friday Evening, Saturday Matinee, Saturday Evening andSunday Matinee Ticket prices: Off-peak: R370 – R595 and Peak: R455 – R680 Tour Information
CAPE TOWN: Venue: Grand Arena, GrandWest Dates: March 21-26. Off-peak shows: Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening, Thursday evening and Sunday evening Peak shows: Friday evening, Saturday matinee, Saturday evening and Sunday matinee Ticket prices: Off-peak: R340 – R570 and Peak: R425 – R655. Bookings: From Big Concert at: www.bigconcerts.co.za and Computicket: www. online. computicket.com. Connect with the Blue Man Group at www. blueman.com or Twitter at @ bluemangroup.