IMG_1615Like many, my first exposure to Blue Man Group was in the late 1990s and early 2000s with their ubiquitous Intel Pentium ads. Given full creative control of the ads, the BMG team replicated the odd-ball, group centric, one vs the rest, slightly pop culture aware New York, Boston, and Chicago shows. I got hooked on the show in 2002 after my first Las Vegas show, after which I saw them in Chicago, on tour, New York, and in Orlando in 2008.

The Orlando show location, which opened in 2007, is modeled after the late Toronto show. The Blue Men are backed by a larger, four piece band, with a wider stage which can fit more props and effects. When the show opened the original iPhone wasn’t released yet, eBooks were a niche product, YouTube just launched, and LED technology was in its infancy. The show talked about email, computer animation, and Internet Cafés (remember those)?

In 2012 the stage was gutted, the crepe paper packed up, and the DNA tubes hanging from the rafters were replaced with Zygote balls The newly rebooted show features a massive LED back drop, dynamic moving screens, new commentary on modern technology and society, and a new finale. Where the previous incarnation had giant cue cards about information overload, now the Blue Men have ‘GiPads’ to read eBooks, watch YouTube, and play an Angry Birds rip off. The mind blowing segment on internet cafes is replaced with an equally visual crazy sketch on texting vs meeting in person. And where once seas of crepe paper flowed down from the back of the theater, now seven foot diameter, color changing, balls get batted around.IMG_1616

While the technology and content of the skits change over the years the message and impact remains the same. The new ‘Screen Hopping” skit updates and re-imagines the old “Shadows” skit from the NYC show, focusing on cell phone Apps instead of reproducing art. Yves Klein is still name checked but now as part of a television special. The technology that now connects us all isn’t wireless networks instead of being not electricity.

As our society and culture continues to become more connected the feeling of isolation creeps over. People wait in elaborate theme park queues only to look at their cell phones the whole time. 63.5% of teenagers watch YouTube Daily. The average American sends over 120 text messages per day. One in seven married couples reports that usage of tables and phones has lead to spending less time with their families. The Blue Man’s naiveté of quickly created social norms act as commentary and critique of this digital dichotomy. 2D texting figures pop-out into 3D space to meet in the real world and television is paused to create real art.

IMG_1614Modern technology has invaded existing spaces, it has not in theater. Prior to each show everyone must perform the “Electronic Devices Oath” (I will not record or photograph the performance etc etc, even if it kills me). The feeling of connectedness you can have with those around you in the theater defines the Blue Man experience. The show ends in a massive, self aware, dance party where giant Zygote balls bounce around the audience and crepe paper wafts in the air. And during my last show, children and adults were running through the isles just… celebrating. The Blue Man experience is the sense of emotional elation and also technological embracement; just 8 years ago such a group bonding experience wasn’t possible with the technology they had. It’s about using technology to bring people together, not isolate, predict, or require to preplan their every move.

The merging of technology, the human spirit, and social bonding is the Blue Man Group. None of it is more evident than with Wyatt, who received a prosthetic arm through the work of Limbitless, University of Central Florida, and Blue Man Orlando. I’ll let the video speak for itself.

Blue Man Group Orlando comes with my highest personal recommendation.

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