Blue Man group chime in rhythm

A dazzling staging of three actors in bald hoods and blue makeup

A blue man crosses the audience during a production at the Charles Playhouse.

Image provided by Blue Man Group. Photographed by Caroline Talbot.

blue man group
Charles Playhouse, Boston Theater District
Play all year round

A faint but heavy thud can be heard on the southern edge of Boston’s Theater District, an unmistakable sound that has rocked the walls of the century-old Charles Playhouse year-round for nearly 30 years. Rave? Probably. Maybe just a noisy bar? Not surprisingly, the bustling atmosphere is always present at one of the many nightclub-style attractions the area has to offer. But unlike other venues in the region, it’s the kind of joy that theater offers – a dizzying yet engaging mix of light music, laughter and surprises.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to take a moment to note the emergency exit signs. In case of an emergency, please leave your chairs and make your way to the emergency exits. Again, please leave your chairs in the theater – they are bolted to the floor. Just consider the energy it will take to remove it, and it probably won’t match your personal décor in any way.

As the stage sits in darkness at the start of the show for a roughly 10-minute opening routine, the pounding noise turns into a rhythmic percussive beat. Then two. Then three. The opening act continues to add elements, introducing the main features of the show—the lights, the paints, the drums, and the audience itself—and its underlying theme: the determined greed of three silent men called the “Blue Men” as they navigate their way. 90 minutes of fusion concert which is Blue Man Group.

The show fuses expansive sequences of live instrumentals and psychedelic rock with performance art that incorporates paints and marshmallow sculptures, all stacked together into a story-like structure in which three wide-eyed but determined men take on their childish determination through a series of routines that expose and disintegrate the world through their eyes.

Visually and functionally stunning, the set itself is a specially designed stage outfitted with many props for the characters to interact with, from spinning paint palettes and three Blue Man-sized smartphone screens to their very own Drumbone, paint drum and thongophone.

Actor Kean Haunt, who has been playing the Blue Man since 2018, noted that the show’s quirkiness and uniqueness comes from the Blue Men’s onstage characters.

“The character doesn’t speak. You have to be very expressive with just your body, and you really get to play with all the active implicit body language elements in everyday life and interactions. It really takes center stage in the Blue Man Group show when you can’t use words and yet have to follow a story.” And making sure the audience is there with you, and they understand what you’re trying to put together,” Hunt said.

Each production features three distinct actors wearing bald hats and blue makeup — the eponymous Blue Men — interacting with each other and with the audience in a variety of ways. While the similarities in the ways in which their innocence manifests itself in the real world might suggest some similarity inherent in their personalities, each of the three characters is actually rooted in a different aspect of the human experience.

Throughout the show, as the segments unfold and you watch how each individual deals with the new information that emerges, you begin to recognize the small differences [between the characters] … We sometimes talk about whether blue men had different pieces of evidence for being human. “They were each handed an incomplete copy,” Hunt said.

Accordingly, the manner in which blue men fulfill the expectations outlined in these handbooks leads them to their individual personalities.

“Generally the left blue guy has the most information but being kind of a hooligan on the inside he uses that to play with others a bit…more of the game to try something…the blue guy in the middle has the least amount of information and he’s the guy in The medium that tries to bring these two competing energies together,” Hunt said.

From a storytelling perspective, the dynamic between the three naturally gives rise to their different moves. But from a technical perspective, the necessity of maintaining a strong flow throughout the show and allowing the characters to realistically respond to their situations presents an interesting challenge for the three actors as they have to keep up with each other and stay within that dynamic as they respond to the various obstacles, interruptions, and situations that come up during the show.

Then, a balancing act must come with each show between preserving the script and being willing to abandon it at the slightest change.

The three silent guys that make it through the production are 21st-century Moe, Larry, and Curly, drawing inspiration from those kinds of slapstick-style comedy routines of the silent era, but also building on the concept. Even within the show itself, innovation must continually occur—essential to keep pace with changing audiences as the world-class performance group traverses more than three decades of production.

“The script for the show was pretty much explained by every blue guy who came in and learned the role and then passed it on to someone else. So, that’s really interesting, even if you’re writing, hitting hard, and what’s supposed to happen, there’s a lot underneath that,” Hunt said. .

Much of this variation and improvisation on the show as well as the more extensive gradual change with the show’s script comes from the different styles and dynamics that Every Blue Man brings to the show and the unpredictability of the actors’ interactions with their audiences. On the Boston set, there are six actors who rotate in and out of each production, with Hunt playing the right or left blue guy when performing.

A staple of the series’ current production is the “The Match” routine, which was developed in Boston—at the time Haunt joined the Boston set—and later spread to other productions.

“[In ‘The Match,’ we] Exit to the public. There’s this kind of weird minute where we’re just walking around, taking people around to try and find a couple of people who we think would be nice to play with. Then we bring them up, we do this scripted piece but a lot can go wrong because a couple of the audience members that we get — they don’t know the script. Sometimes, they have their own ideas, Hunt said.

It’s this kind of exhilarating uncertainty and gushy attitude that drives the show at its core and allows the irreverent apathy to take center stage. The Blue Men, with all their innocence and curiosity, offer another way to see the world through a color-changing lens.

“The Boston Blue Man Group has a reputation in the company as being a big family, and I think that really rings true. People come in and they’re really excited to do their jobs and put on a show and see what happens every night. I pop into the theater to hang out with my friends — that’s kind of what happens Now, so that was really cool,” Hunt said.

By production:

Blue Man Group Boston has returned its popular student tickets to the thousands of college students who attend area colleges and universities.

For just $30, students can see one-of-a-kind pop culture sensation, Blue Man Group, blending art, music, comedy, and dance in a theater experience unique to the Boston area.

In addition to the fun-filled show experience, students over the age of 21 can enjoy an adult drink in the lounge before the show. Everyone can share their experience on social media with the hashtag #BlueManBOS!

Student rush tickets are available year-round. Students will need to show photo ID to purchase tickets that are available in person at the Charles Playhouse Box Office on the day of the show. For more information on student rush tickets, check out www.blueman.com/boston/discounts/studentrush.

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