Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.
The Blue Man Group in action.
Photo by Paul Kolnik
The Blue Man Group is a well-oiled performance machine, even in their lighter moments. During one sequence of Tuesday's performance at the Ordway in St. Paul, the trio of painted performers were fooling around with snippets of songs on a xylophone-type instrument made of industrial tubing.
They played a bit of Devo's "Whip It" (compete with whip sound effects) and a chorus of "Tequila" before some wag on the audience shouted out the inevitable "Free Bird."
It didn't take long for the backing band to take up the challenge, knocking off a few bars of the tune. One of the Blue Men lifted a lighter in tribute, while another (continuing an earlier gag) used a fire extinguisher to put it out.
Funny, nicely done, and most certainly rehearsed. That's how the Blue Man Group works at this stage of the ensemble's career. The experimental edge of the original Off-Broadway production has largely been shorn away.
That doesn't mean the group, which plays at the Ordway through Sunday, doesn't provide plenty of fun or thrills. Their "greatest hits" work after repeated viewings because they connect clearly to the audience, even without saying a word.
The onward march of technology gets a few acknowledgements along the way. Giant "tablet" computers are used to build to familiar gags like "Cap'n Crunch," while a bit about texting characters breaking into the "2.5D" world manages to make a few pointed observations about how we manage to not interact with anyone these days.
In the end, the show works best when it overwhelms the senses. Near the end, they pull out of the stops, with a mixture of pounding dance music, percussive excess, bright strobe lights, giant beach balls being knocked around the theater, and massive streams of confetti all assaulting the audience at once. It's enough to make you dizzy, and ultimately satisfied.
IF YOU GO:
Blue Man Group
Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 651.224.4222 or visit online.