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Review of Blue Man Group in Orlando at CityWalk


‘Bout time I got around to reviewing the recently opened Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. So here goes:

Blue Man Group

What: Avant garde theater performance
Where: Across the waterway next to Hard Rock Cafe
Tickets: Adults $59 to $69; children 9 and under $49 to $59; annual passholders get a 10% discount
Hours: Varies widely. Generally there are two shows daily, but fewer shows during slower periods. Call.
Web: www.blueman.com or www.universalorlando.com

Back in the eighties, three “performance artists” created Blue Man Group in New York’s seedy East Village. They were weird, hip, edgy, incomprehensible. They were the most avant of the avant garde. Today they are family entertainment. Such is cultural progress.

Now an international phenomenon, the Orlando edition of the troupe holds forth in an industrial looking thousand-seat theater at the end of a long, winding pathway next to the Hard Rock Cafe.

And just what awaits at the end of that path? Well, perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid Blue Man Group is that it is pretty much indescribable. Three very bald, very blue, very silent guys in black pajamas (could they be space aliens?) appear on a stage that seems to be part of a strange factory and do a series of odd things, some of which take real skill, some of which are very funny, and some of which are just plain wacky. They are at once consummate masters of ceremony and befuddled innocents who seem constantly surprised by the presence of the audience.

Some of the best segments involve the trio’s considerable skill as percussionists (a four-man, day-glo combo assists from overhead). And who could have guessed how much entertainment value there was in pouring colored liquids on drum heads? There’s plenty of audience interaction and the show wraps up with a chaotic finale that involves everyone and sends the crowd out in a festive mood.

So what’s it all about? Some see a critique of modern society, others detect commentary on modern art. My advice is to check your brain at the door and let the fun of the evening take over. I found the more I tried to analyze, the less I enjoyed the experience. They do not recommend the show for children under three; personally, I’d stretch that to five or six.

There is a tendency to compare this show to La Nouba, the Cirque du Soleil show over at Downtown Disney. I think this is unfair. La Nouba is a multi-million-dollar extravaganza with a large cast. Blue Man is, essentially, a three-man show that has grown over the years but that still sticks close to its Off Broadway origins. It’s really an apples and oranges comparison.

Tip: The show lasts one hour and forty-five minutes, there is no intermission, and beer vendors work the crowd beforehand. You have been warned!

The best seats in the house. All things being equal, the closer and more centrally located your seat, the better. The first four rows are designated as the “poncho zone” and those seated there are issued cheap plastic cover ups, just in case. But it’s a far cry from a “splash zone” at SeaWorld and more marketing than anything else. Besides, I find the ponchos uncomfortable. Sitting a few rows farther back won’t decrease your enjoyment a bit. Zone 1, center is just about ideal. The “cheap seats” (Zones 3 and 4) are on a steeper incline and offer good sight lines of the whole stage.

Tickets can be ordered over the phone by calling (888) 340-5476 or (407) 224-3200 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily; you can also order online at the two web sites above (follow the prompts). There is a box office at the theater as well. You may also see offers combining a Blue Man ticket with theme park admission and a CityWalk Party Pass.

The show schedule is somewhat erratic. Typically there are two shows a day at 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. or 6:00 and 9:00. But some days there is just one show and some days there are none. Call or check the web sites for show times during your visit.




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