Blue Man Group Rocks

April 19, 2007|By Carolyn Peirce | Carolyn Peirce,sun reporter

For men of few - actually no - words, Blue Man Group puts on one loud rock show. After a first edition hit 42 cities last fall, the Blue Man Group's "How To Be A Megastar Tour 2.0" is back for a second round of entertainment, which began in February.

The energetic show, produced by Pacific Arts Entertainment and Emery Entertainment, is about three Blue Man characters who download software that instructs them how to become super-famous by putting on a rock show.

"It takes the audience through the tongue-in-cheek pieces of that learning experience," says Paul Emery, the tour's executive producer, "from the rock concert head-bob to the fist-pump."

With the help of an eight-piece band and a booming narrator, the Blue Man Group performs a lively spoof of an arena-style rock show that pokes fun at pop culture's obsession with fame, Emery says.

"It breaks down how to have a rock concert, and we end up having a rock concert about having a rock concert," says Matthew Banks, 33, who has been a Blue Man for eight years. Banks is touring with Blue Man characters Wes Day and Matt Ramsey.

It's ironic for a Blue Man, which was created in the late 1980s in New York by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton, to become a megastar, Banks says.

"He is part dog, part superhero and part 5-year-old child," Banks says, "He's curious and innocent like a child, but he has this issue to connect and elevate people around him, like a superhero ... and he has the focus on one task, like a dog."

Doused in blue paint and dressed entirely in black, Blue Man has no voice, no identity and no ego - not the makings of a typical megastar.

"The point of putting on the makeup is to take off my cultural mask," Banks said. "The result is to isolate everything to the eyes, which are the window to the soul."

Even though Blue Man isn't the usual superstar, the idea of a rock concert is to connect people in an experience, which is also part of Blue Man's mission.

"Blue Man goes where people gather, because it's a way to get everyone together when it's so easy to isolate yourself now," Banks said. "Rock concerts are a ritual, major, explosive extension of sitting around a campfire and telling stories."

The show explores this theme of togetherness, which is apparent in the trio of Blue Man characters, who act as one singular being. But don't expect a round of "Kumbaya." The production combines creative theatrics, multimedia arts and comedy into a spectacle of strobe lights, percussion and energy.

In true Blue Man style, the drums will splatter paint, the grand piano will be turned on its side and struck with a mallet, and PVC tubes will become instruments.

"It's ecstatic, euphoric and so easy to enjoy," Banks says.

The show is an interactive experience, in which the audience will play a role through video cameras and several large screens. "It never fails to connect with everyone despite their age or background," Emery says. "It's magical in that sense and very engaging."

Unlike other rock concerts, there is no star. "Because there are three of them and Blue Man is so egoless and unidentifiable, people end up inadvertently celebrating themselves," Banks says. "It becomes their imaginations writing stories on the black canvas of the Blue Man Group."

"How To Be A Megastar Tour 2.0" is at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., on Saturday. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $57-$87. For more information, call 410-347-2020 or go to ticketmaster.com. To see video of the group, go to blueman.com.

To see more photos of Blue Man Group, go to baltimoresun.com/blueman.

carolyn.peirce@baltsun.com

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