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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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In Travel & Visitors Guide Reviews

Kids won't find the Blue Men scary, but it's a good idea to question other aspects of the show. In the end? Go.

Blue Man Group: How kid-friendly is it?


CHICAGO -- I saw the Blue Man Group in 1998, just a year after it opened in Chicago's Briar Street Theater. The show features three performers who appear on stage with blue skin, bald heads and no ears. They perform a series of ridiculous and remarkable acts, most of which celebrate and poke fun at performance art, technology and music.

Aside from the Chicago show, The Blue Man Group is running in New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.

The show is appealing, for the most part, to viewers of most ages. The real question for me, however, was whether or not it would appeal to kids.

At $77 apiece, the tickets are not cheap, so ensuring that a splurge like this is a good choice for the entire family is one to consider. If questioning the appropriateness of the show for a kid, know that the Blue Man Group does not allow any child under 5 years old into the show, and all kids must have a ticket.

The show is very loud at times -- there is a three-piece "skeleton" band -- and has about five minutes of flashing strobe lights. These might rule out your young people right away. Plus, the show is one hour and 45 minutes long, without an intermission. This is another detail to consider with younger kids.

The biggest reason to question the show's apropriateness is whether or not there's enough for kids to get out of it.

Much of the message of the Blue Man Group is a commentary on the absurdity of overpriced art, the lack-of-talent in today's pop music performers and the human isolation created by the Internet.

The show changed a lot since the last time I saw it 13 years ago, and the messages have become stronger, mostly because of the greater impact of the Internet. I was disappointed by the fact more of the show seemed pre-recorded than before and projected onto a large video screen, but there was enough live entertainment to overall satisfy me.

Also, I believe that there is enough in the show that will entertain younger children, even if they are unable to understand some of the deeper themes. My school-aged kids found it extremely funny and exciting.

The Blue Men -- and women are occasionally cast in these roles -- are somewhere between human and alien, but they are alien only in appearance. Their demeanor and interactions are extremely human. They make mistakes and messes and enjoy doing "pointless" antics. Most kids will connect with this.

The interactive-ness of the show could excite or worry kids, depending on their personalities. They do take audience members onto the stage, but they seem to find people who are open to the idea of being laughed at, albeit in a good-natured way.

Somehow, the Blue Men have remained relevant over the past two decades. They have similar qualities to the contemporary blue people in "Avatar," called the Na'vi, and the Blue Men's message although a bit tired for some adults, will still introduce kids to the concept of technology having drawbacks.

If the ticket prices are not too steep, taking kids to Blue Man Group is a good move, as long as afore-mentioned aspects of the show like darkness and loudness and length are not too much of an issue.

Without being too much of a spoiler, here are a few things my kids particularly enjoyed during the show this weekend.

The Marshmallow Toss. Blue Men have an exceptional talent when it comes to catching marshmallows in their mouths. And the number of marshmallows they are able to contain in their mouths at one time is noteworthy as well. Marshmallows are a reoccurring theme in the show. They are launched into the audience at one point during the performance as well. My kid "caught" one of these marshmallows (not by mouth) and it's going to eventually be the world's stalest souvenir.

The Blue Men's comedic timing. The actors' ability to express volumes in a single head tilt is one of the true beauties of the show. The characters do not speak, and so their body movement and gestures are key to the audience's ability to warm up to them. They can make kids and adults laugh with their facial expressions and body language.

The last five minutes of the show. I will not divulge what happens during the last few minutes of the show, but anyone who has attended, will never forget. Aside from it being a questionable environmental faux pas (they do say they used recycled materials), it is really a spectacular interactive event.


Talkbacks

johninmke | Nov. 1, 2010 at 1:34 p.m. (report)

I would totally agree with every point in the review. I would add - I took my 8 year old son to BMG and he loved it. He was, however, hit with some 'goo' from the stage that was terribly smelly...rotten smelling actually. This happens during the twinkie portion. We were in the 'poncho zone' up front and the goo somehow found the only opening in his poncho. The smell brought him to tears - it was quite terrible. Luckily we had a clean shirt in the car otherwise it would have ruined the entire trip. I would recommend, but not up front for the little ones.

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