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