The Blue Man Group's Tubes is a seriously multilevel piece of theater. At the base level, there are good goofy mime-based sketches, with cool percussion and neat visuals thrown in. At a level up, there is an entire 'conversational track' carried on among the Blue Men and between them and the audience, using only non-verbal cues. The 'audibility' of this conversation will vary depending on the particular Blue Man team you are watching*, and how well the team meshes in terms of timing. Finally, there is a whole host of cultural references which, combined with the conversation, the physical comedy and the music, make for an absolutely fantastic night out at the theater. Run-don't-walk to see this.

*The show is currently running in New York City, at its original home the Astor Place Theater; in Boston MA. at the Charles Playhouse, in Chicago IL at The Briar Street Theater (Thanks iambic!) and recently a modified version was debuted at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, NV. As a result, there are numerous Blue Men, so you will likely not get the same 'team' twice!

The instruments used by the Blue Men vary; the most famous are the PVC Instruments, percussive instruments based on varying lengths of PVC tubing. These have a decidedly Seuss-ish look to them, being multicolored under blacklight and employing fantastic and whimsical bends in the tubes to achieve the varying lengths. The open ends of the tubes are gathered in a 'keyboard' of sorts, with the openings facing up, and are struck with soft paddles. The motion of playing them is much like playing a Glockenspiel, but with more energy.

During the show, they also play a variety of simpler drums, and more bizarre devices, such as the Drumbone. This is a single length of PVC, with bends in it for easier holding, and with sliding sections at various points that allow the Blue Men holding the instrument (two of the three) to vary the tube length continuously while the third drums on the end.

There is a backup band visible at the top of the proscenium as well; done up in blacklight makeup, they provide the energetic soundtrack for the Blue Men's capers and accompaniment for the musical numbers.

If you are curious about the show, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of their CD, Blue Man Group: Audio. It has been a long wait for it to arrive, but worth it in the end; it's a wonderful sample of music from the show as well as additional tracks made with instruments that wouldn't fit onto a live stage. The liner notes contain details about the instrumentation; some of this information comes from there.

Update! The Blue Man has released a new album, named The Complex. It has been given a slight commercial boost by having a single (The Current) featured in The Matrix: Reloaded. This version is more of a rock record than just music from the shows; the songs have (gasp!) lyrics in some cases, and a number are done with other performers. Don't worry, the Blue Man never speaks. Performers featured on the album include Dave Matthews, Tracy Bonham, Josh Haden, Esthero, Gavin Rossdale, Rob Swift, Arone Dyer, Peter Moore and Venus Hum.

The high points of the album: White Rabbit, with esthero, which I've been wanting them to lay down with the Tubes since seeing the show for the first time. Exhibit 13, which is pure instrumental Blueness, and your Attention which uses lyrics to pull you right into Bluespace.

When I was attending Calvin College, we had a program with the theatre company there where graduate members of the company who had made it (to varying degrees) in the real world would come back to talk to us about their experiences.

One of these individuals had become part of the Chicago Blue group (thus leading me to believe that there are in fact different teams in various if you go to see the Chicago show repeatedly, you are likely seeing the same team, whereas if you travel between cities, you will see differences).

Also in reply to the post about size...this fellow was about 5' 10" and rail thin. I'm not sure what this says about anything.

In any case, he related to us that the Blue Men Group got their start out in New York, and that their first act in fact consisted of standing against a brick wall with one of those rope stands like you find in banks (or, more aptly, in front of club entrances) for several hours. Thus the more performance art aspect of their show.

Their second performance (at least, that was noted) consisted of digging a hole in Central Park, and burying items from the 80's, (such as a Tiffany's album) and putting the 80's officially to rest. This may give you a flavor for their type of humor. One is not certain if they obtained permission for digging said hole first.

One receives the impression that the original Blue Man Group operating out of New York generates all new techniques and performances, and disseminates it to the other crews. This would also likely relate to who appears on what talk shows (such as Letterman), all of which seem to reside in New York also. Coincidence? Likely only The_Custodian truly knows for sure.

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