I will never forget the first time I saw a Blue Man Group production in the late ‘90s. It was a jaw-dropping experience that was truly other-worldly in such a profound way. Every subsequent Blue Man Group production I’ve seen has been the same as the shows keep evolving through the years.
It’s actually quite tough to fully describe Blue Man Group. They’re kind of indescribable ... one of those things you have to just go experience for yourself to fully understand. But I can say this — they’re an experience your kids (and you!) will LOVE! From their world-famous paint-splatter drumming, to percussive music making on PVC pipes to doing some wicked cool things with giant rolls of toilet paper and having odd Twinkie feasts, a Blue Man Group show sparks a high level of wonder and inspiration while also making statements along the way.
None of the actual Blue Men talk (there’s about 100 of them worldwide), but fortunately, I was able to catch up with their senior musical director, Byron Estep, who started his career with the group in 1994 as a member of the band. Estep was wonderfully chatty during our phone conversation recently (he’s currently with the sitting show in Berlin, but he’s involved with the music direction in all Blue Man Group shows, including the tour coming to TPAC in February). One of the biggest questions most people ask is, “What are these guys?” because there’s a lot of mystery surrounding them ... and that mysterious element is important.
“The ambiguity is actually the point,” says Estep. “You can’t categorize the Blue Man in your head, and that lack of categorization opens your mind for anything. The idea was to find a character that doesn’t fit into any context so we can create our own context onstage during the performance,” he adds.
While he refrains from using the word “alien,” Estep does establish that Blue Man characters are from someplace other than our normal life. “They are not of the world that we ordinarily experience,” he says.
Science and technology are big themes in the show, and the Blue Men utilize their uniqueness to make their own kind of commentary on a lot of things we take for granted in our normal everyday lives, primarily our interaction with technology.
“The Blue Men take an opportunity to hold up a mirror to the society we live in and especially the way we integrate technology into it,” says Estep.
Reflecting on modern life, the Blue Men tend to point out some of the absurd ways we interact with technology while acknowledging the love of using it.
My past experience with Blue Man Group shows has been one of leaving with a renewed since of inspiration and connection with creativity. That’s been a universal audience experience.
“One thing I’ve noticed over the years, which is universal, is that it inspires kids,” says Estep. “I have a 6-year-old daughter, and I took her to Blue Man Group for the first time four months ago. A couple days later, she put on a show for us that was clearly inspired by what she had seen onstage.”
There’s definitely a special — and undeniably specific — magic and mystery surrounding the world of Blue Man Group. It’s certainly one of the most exciting shows in town next month, and hopefully your family will get to experience a new level of inspiration by seeing it yourselves.
IF YOU GO:
Blue Man Group
Feb. 11 - 16; All ages
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 | tpac.org
Showtimes: Tue - Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $40 - $75
KIDS' DAY ON BROADWAY
Saturday, Feb. 15 is Kids' Day on Broadway with Blue Man Group's 2 p.m. matinee show that day. Starting at 12:30 p.m., your kids can learn more about Blue Man Group through interactive activities and crafts all geared toward enhancing your child's theater experience prior to the show.
In addition, you can get buy one, get one free tickets for the Kids' Day performance at 2 p.m. by using code KIDSNIGHT. The buy one/get one offer is restricted to Price Level 2 on the Saturday, Feb. 15 matinee performance only, available while supplies last.