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Review: Blue Man Group redefines performing sketch comedy

Blue Man Group performs again today at Symphony Hall in Duluth. (Photo by Paul Kolnik)

Blue Man Group is what happens when Gen X rips a traditional mime from his invisible box, hoists him by his suspenders and sprays enough Twinkie debris in his direction to wilt an invisible flower.

The famous crew of bald and blue-faced drummers has redefined what it means to silently perform sketch comedy. And they've been doing it long enough that when three boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal were introduced on stage Friday at Symphony Hall, at least one person in the audience laughed before the segment began. It was a response similar to when Gallagher brings out the melons.

(Spoiler alert: The blue men eat fistfuls of the cereal to create something akin to a crunchy, albeit wordless rap).

By now most everyone has heard of, if not seen, Blue Man Group. They've been doing this since the late 1980s, although then it was three guys in one theater instead of 60-80 blue men traveling the world.

The uninitiated would have to include people who never saw the old Intel Pentium III commercial or the TV show "Arrested Development," both of which featured the performers.

To that person: Blue Man Group is a trio of bald-headed, blue-faced black-clothed multimedia artists who spend 90 minutes on stage considering staples of pop culture with a sort of just-dropped-here-from-another-planet curiosity. They don't speak, but can say thousands of words through wide eyes and cocked heads.

Their drumming sends up mists of hyper color paint. They catch things in their mouths. Their chests emit sprays of pre-chewed Twinkie. They jam on PVC pipes, taking the tunes from "Crazy Train" to "Fur Elise" to "Bad Romance."

They roam through the audience, stepping from seat to seat and making creepy eye contact. During one segment, an audience member is taken on stage for some casual dining with the blue men. Another civilian was outfitted in a white jump suit for a segment featuring man as a human paintbrush.

And let's just say someone is waking up to a pretty weird food sculpture in her purse this morning.

It amounts to part-theater, part rave, part-food play --and, whoa, is it fun.

Before the show starts, there are words projected on the stage attributed to a book by Nora Epinephrin and Sarah Tonin (get it?). "The best way to forge a lasting bond is to create something together. ... a meal ... art project ... dance party." Blue Man Group's show is all of the above and at some point you will find yourself elbow to elbow with your seat mates, trying to keep an oversized beach ball afloat.

Some sketches include projected words on the stage, which are hard to see from the sides of the theater. You can, however, sometimes see the show's crew in the wings, which can be distracting.

Blue Man Group performs again at 8 p.m. today at Symphony Hall. Don't be late: Dawdlers get spotlight treatment.

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