Blues band

The Blue Man Group takes its show to China for the first time

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at xu­jingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Three “blue men” tap on a marimba-like in­stal­la­tion made with PVC pipes and play the in­tro of Chi­nese pop song Lit­tle Ap­ple, which arouses gig­gles and ap­plause in the au­di­ence dur­ing the New York-based Blue Man Group’s de­but in the Chi­nese main­land in Guangzhou.

Cel­e­brat­ing its 25th an­niver­sary, the cre­ative theater show launched a world tour in April and for the first time comes to the Chi­nese main­land.

It made its de­but in Guangzhou on Oct 11 and will travel to Bei­jing and Shang­hai dur­ing its six-week tour in China.

Com­bin­ing var­i­ous per­form­ing art forms in­clud­ing live mu­sic, jug­gling, in­stal­la­tion art and per­for­mance art, the show opens the au­di­ence’s eyes and stim­u­lates the senses through­out the 90-minute show.

Blue Man Group has been per­formed in 15 coun­tries and has been seen by more than 35 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

With every­one jump­ing for joy and reach­ing for the big bal­loons rolling from the stage at the end of the show in Guangzhou, it proves that BlueMan Group’s happy virus is in­fec­tious.

“The show is about things that are uni­ver­sal to peo­ple. It’s about deeper things we share — our de­sire to con­nect with each other, to be cre­ative and to en­joy life,” says the cap­tan of the Blue Man Group per­form­ers, who calls him­self Merid­ian.

Wear­ing a poker face and keep­ing silent through­out the show, the three char­ac­ters ex­plore the world like new­borns full of cu­rios­ity and play­ful­ness, jug­gling with can­dies and play­ing mu­sic with PVC tubes.

“The char­ac­ter ex­ists in ev­ery per­son,” says David Bray, the show’s di­rec­tor. “When peo­ple walk out of the theater, they start to see the world in a dif­fer­ent way through the eyes of a child. For ex­am­ple, they will see the po­ten­tial of a mun­dane glass ta­ble to be a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment and be­gin to cre­ate some­thing.”

The au­di­ence is a huge part of the show and “kind of like the fourth blue char­ac­ter”, says Tony Aguirre, the show’s mu­si­cal di­rec­tor.

There are many mo­ments dur­ing the show when per­form­ers in­ter­act with the au­di­ence in a more en­gag­ing way, rather than sim­ply lead­ing themto clap and sing a cho­rus.

For ex­am­ple, it has been a tra­di­tion of the show in the past 25 years to in­vite an au­di­ence mem­ber onto the stage to have a din­ner with the three blue char­ac­ters, dur­ing which they play naughty tricks on the new­comer, mak­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tions based on how he or she re­acts.

The crew also in­vite a vol­un­teer from the au­di­ence to ex­pe­ri­ence the ner­vous­ness and ex­cite­ment of draw­ing while hung up­side down.

The show may have been the nois­i­est one staged in the Guangzhou Opera House, where the au­di­ence usu­ally sit qui­etly ap­pre­ci­at­ing op­eras, clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs, stage plays and dance dra­mas.

Re­cently, an in­creas­ing num­ber of cre­ative theater shows, such as per­cus­sion acts Stomp from the United King­dom and Nanta from South Korea, have come to China.

Although the char­ac­ters from Blue Man Group ap­peared in a house­hold In­tel com­mer­cial and the show is ac­claimed as a “must-see” in Las Vegas, it is new to the Chi­nese, which may af­fect ticket sales, ac­cord­ing to Yang Xiaoluan, a theater critic from Guangzhou.

“I hope that the box of­fice for the show’s tour in the Chi­nese main­land will go up with good re­views spread by word of mouth,” he says.

“The show is able to give the au­di­ence a wow mo­ment with ‘I never imag­ined it could be done in this way’ and draw them in, which is the key to a suc­cess­ful cre­ative theater show.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Three blue men drum on PVC tubes dur­ing the dressed re­hearsal for BlueManGroup’s de­but show in the Guangzhou Opera House.

Merid­ian (left), cap­tain of the BlueManGroup per­form­ers, shows a jour­nal­ist how to play mu­sic with a PVC “piano”.

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