note: entire contents copyright 2000 By Alan W. Petrucelli
If the name wasn't already taken "House of Blues" would certainly serve the Charles Playhouse well.
After all, this is the teeny Boston theater where "Blue Man Group" has been playing to sold-out crowds since the show opened in 1995.
It's the same theater that has been filled with screaming Blue Man" devotees, especially those die-hard fans who wait months for the chance to sit in the front rows, wearing disposable transparent slickers in the hopes that they will be sprayed or splayed with the blue (and red and green and orange and yellow) washable paint that flies from hands and mouths of the show's three bald, cobalt blue-colored characters.
This is the same theatre where rolls and rolls and rolls of white crepe paper unfurl to the pulsation of strobe lights, coating audience members at the show's end --- according to a "Blue Man" source, more than 2,500 miles of paper have been used in the Boston production alone.
This is the same theater where Spin Art takes on new meaning as paint is poured on kettledrum heads that are then beat feverishly; the splatters caught on canvas. (A little-known secret: The abstract works can be purchased post-performance for $25.)
This is the same theater where grown men stuff boxes upon boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal into their mouths (accentuated with a symphony of amplified crunching) and then catch marshmallows in such jaw-dropping, rapid-fire succession that laws of gravity and speed (as well as the capacity of the average male mouth) are brought into question.
This is the same theater where Twinkies play an integral role in the show ... along with a hand-picked audience member who (if he or she is lucky), gets creamed---literally, as Twinkies' filling oozes from teeny holes in the chests of the blue men.
No wonder why [begin ital] Cats [end ital] is closing and "Blue Man Group" is still. going strong, playing to capacity crowds in New York, Boston and Chicago.
Whoever said feeling the blues isn't joyful?
Great art it is not. Great fun --- with food fights just this side of "Animal House", romps through "Romper Room"-inspired, finger-painted messes that are childish yet never crude --- is most certainly is.
As [begin ital] Blue Man [end ital] gets ready to celebrate its 2,000th performance in Boston, we decided to brave the flying (washable) paint and Gillette Foamy (the official shaving cream of the show) and pay a visit. And we were pleasantly surprised: the show has maintained its freshness and feistiness, looking neither tired or tattered, but still true-blue. (The trio of blues brothers is played by various actors.)
The Charles Playhouse is festooned with food-processing tubes: they hang, different sizes and colors, from the rafters and decorate the sides of the proscenium. Electronic messages, flashing in red digital read-outs, welcome the crowd, asking them to be seated, be quiet, pay their credit-card bills.
The antics are all done wordlessly --- though often accompanied by a soundtrack of sounds finally released on CD --- acts of pantomime and slapstick that assault the sense, confound the mind, overwork the imagination and attack the art world (a dead fish mounted on canvas, a floundering example of trompe l'oeil, is ridiculed through those same electronic digital read-outs) as they pay homage to silent-screen comedians. The show is short (about 80 minutes, without an intermission) and sensational; it is as often quixotic and quizzical.
It is the perfect cure for the blues ... and like a day at the playground, a time to get down and dirty and don a raincoat.