Theatre review- “Blue Man Group: Speechless” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

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Photo courtesy Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre

If you’ve always wanted to see Blue Man Group (BMG) perform in Las Vegas but never wanted to make the drive, you will be happy to know they’ve kicked off a new touring production called Speechless at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, continuing through this weekend.

The 90-minute show, nimbly directed by Jenny Koons, consists of the three silently iconic Blue Men playfully putting together found objects on a technologically suggestive set to create instruments and generate percussion-heavy music (with the aid of drummer Corky Gainsford and guitarist Jerry Kops and composed by Jeff Turlik). Add to that the men’s playful use of colors, dynamic lighting (designed by Jen Schriever) along with plenty of audience interaction and the result is high-energy, unpredictable entertainment.

Mike Brown, Steven Wendt and Adam Zuick perform as the Blue Men, along with Meridian, a Blue Man “captain,” though more than three of them are never on stage at the same time. All have toured with BMG for a number of years, embodying their nameless characters’ slightly jerky, lizard-like body, head and eye movements. The men seem alien and yet, in their childlike creativity and playfulness, human.

The men create art– music, painting and sculpture– out of their environment, and also enlist two men from the audience for an on-stage “visit,” all sitting on a couch, parodying a date night– essentially turning those men into actors. The message of BMG (though we are told during an interlude that there is no deep meaning) seems to be that we can all be artists, anytime, anywhere, even in a technologically rich and potentially oppressive environment.

The set is a massive wall of video screens, lights, computer terminals and industrial ladders and platforms (designed by former architect Jason Ardizzone-West). Video occasionally displays robots, and a delivery box arrives requiring human-face recognition to open (leading to an amusing sequence where none of the Blue Men’s faces can make it work). It’s an environment not far off from our own increasingly tech-heavy world, but seeing these alien men play in it like children suggests we can too, thereby preserving (or perhaps recovering) our humanity.

The only thing that might have enhanced this BMG experience is if it had more of a narrative thread or story arc– such as the men working against their cold and impersonal surroundings– instead of playing out a series of unexpected situations within that environment. But the show does crescendo in a mesmerizing fury of sound, color, light and emphatic percussion. In the end, nothing detracts from the sheer fun, delight and amazement inherent in this exuberant show.

Blue Man Group: Speechless continues at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., through Oct. 6, with performances Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6:30pm. Tickets start at $39. For tickets and information, call the theatre at (323) 468-1770 or visit hollywoodpantages.com.