DETROIT -- Overheard as the opening night audience was leaving Blue Man Group's performance Tuesday, May 1, at the Fisher Theatre: "I loved it! I don't know how to describe it, but I loved it."
Even 25 years on, it's not easy to explain exactly what it is the troupe does. But suffice to say that in its first-ever theatrical tour -- as well as in all its previous permutations -- it's more than three guys in blue paint doing a bunch of silly things.
There's a high-minded performance art concept to Blue Man Group's shows, commenting on pop culture, high art and human behavior. That's an optional buy-in, however. If you're there for the hijinks and humor, well, Blue Man delivers there, too. And it's hard not to have a good time in either indescribably unique direction.
The hour-and-45-minute theater production that's at the Fisher through May 13 combines many of Blue Man's best-known routines -- its "greatest hits," if you will -- with some updates and upgrades. PDA technology in particular has entered the Blue Man universe via three LED light boards known as GiPads, large-scale smartphone/table devices that took the trio through an exercise in multi-tasking while the audience's eyeballs ping-ponged between the devices -- sensory overload with a knowing wink. Particularly funny was an app that crunched great literary tomes such as "Moby Dick" and "War and Peace" into screen-size condensations.
Many favorite Blue Man totems, meanwhile, remained reliable crowd-pleasers. Two of the characters -- typically deadpan and expressing with their eyes and subtle nods of their heads -- created works of "art" after catching, alternately, paint balls and marshmallows in their mouths when thrown by their partner. One young audience member is escorted on stage for a "dinner party" with Twinkies Lite as the entree, while another was suited up as a human paintbrush illusion to produce a large canvas painting. The trio engaged in some precision Cap'n Crunch cereal eating and also performed several musical numbers using Blue Man original musical instruments made from PVC pipes, with the audience chiming in on Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."
And Blue Man Group resurrected, to good effect, the Rock Concert Instruction Manual tutorial from its Complex Rock Tour and How to Be a MegaStar tours, leading the audience through fist pumps, hand waves and other motions. The main act finale, meanwhile, was an interactive carnivale with six giant balloons, toilet paper and streamers all sailing into the audience while a voice intoned seemingly every known nickname for one's rear end -- including the particularly imaginative "happy walrus with no tusks."
The effect of all this doubtlessly puzzling to some, but certainly pleasing. There's nothing else quite like Blue Man Group out there, and the theater production showed the troupe is working hard to keep it that way.
Blue Man Group performs through May 13 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 West Grand Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $40-$145. Call 313-872-1000 or visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to