OK, so I find it an interesting coincidence that there are two (kinda) clowning shows in town right now. "Humor Abuse" over at the Rep (which I reviewed a few days ago) and now the tour of "Blue Man Group" over at the Paramount. And really the two couldn't be more different from each other. While "Humor Abuse" is subtle and sweet, "Blue Man Group" is loud and in your face. And while the latter is definitely fun, I think I prefer the former.
Part rock concert, part multimedia spectacle, and part clowning, these three little blue aliens put on a show that definitely raised the roof of the Paramount. With huge video walls, a high tech percussive beat, and a lot of ingenuity, the show definitely goes beyond performance and into experience. And yes, it's funny. The trio of bald odd balls has tremendous facial expressions even though they keep a straight face the whole time. They wow with wandering in and out of video screens, drumming on pipe creations and splattering the audience with various elements of goo (yes, there is a splatter zone) and are backed up by a rockin' band. They create interesting artwork right before our eyes, invite us to sit down to dinner with them and build to a frenzied climax that rivals any rockers out there. But it was that frenzy where they kind of lost me.
When they were doing the quieter bits like the dinner scene (which I loved) or creating art by catching and expelling items with their mouths, the show was clever and fun. But then there are moments where they rely entirely too much on the technology on stage with them and it becomes less about the performers or the act and more about how much money they could throw at it. And the fun moments at the beginning are almost obliterated from your memory as the show progresses and gets bigger, louder and more chaotic. By the end there was so much stuff happening that I wasn't sure the Blue Men were even still on stage.
Now I know this is what the show is all about. I know it's a big Vegas spectacular. And I know that maybe I'm not the perfect audience for it. I should have known what I was in for when they offered ear plugs as you walked in. But I just think that as clever as the show is, it doesn't really need as much flash as they threw into it. It really only served to detract from the humor that these three guys managed without saying a word.
So, was it fun? Definitely! Is it something I'm glad I saw once? For sure. Do I ever need to see it again? Probably not. Do I personally prefer the heart and subtle humor of things like "Humor Abuse" over the grandeur and outrageousness of "Blue Man Group"? Yeah. Sorry little blue guys.
"Blue Man Group" plays at the Paramount Theatre through October 16th. For tickets or information call 1-877-STG-4TIX (1-877-784-4849) or visit them online at www.stgpresents.org or www.tickets.com.
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik