Blue Man Group still thrills, 13 years in

The curtain call has not even ended when my 9-year-old shouts out, “Mom, can we come back again?”

This ringing endorsement might explain how Blue Man Group stays in residence at Chicago’s Briar Street Theatre despite ups and downs in the economy. Part rock concert, part performance art and part social commentary, this show manages to reach every audience member in a unique way.

You know you’re in for a theater “experience” the moment you enter the lobby. Kids were running from station to station trying to hear each other through tubes that cover the walls and ceiling. Blue Man-inspired art installations fascinated my sons and put them in the right adventurous mood. So when three bright blue men showed up banging drums, we were ready.

Although the Blue Men never speak during the performance, they do communicate. Using percussion “instruments,” amazing facial expressions, a bit of magic and lots of physical comedy, these brilliant performers had us laughing, dancing and clapping through a series of sketches. My sons are still wondering how “that guy” kept all those marshmallows in his mouth. The musical cereal sketch had us in hysterics.

Audience participation is a big part of this show. People are brought on stage at different points to great comic effect. As a group, we were all involved in the intensity and momentum of the show, especially the grand finale (which I won’t reveal here).

My rockin’ sons would tell you that the music really makes the show. They were head banging to the heavy beats throughout and loved the segment about how to be a rock star. In addition to the very talented three-piece band, the Blue Men make a lot of music, much of it combined with great splashes of color. It’s pretty amazing.

The performance runs one hour and 45 minutes, without an intermission. You don’t want to miss a minute so stop at the restrooms before the show starts.

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