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In the Pipeline: Feeling blue but happy

November 16, 2011|By Chris Epting
  • Sherry Opacic, Ralph Opacic and their daughter, Katy Opacic.
Sherry Opacic, Ralph Opacic and their daughter, Katy… (HB Independent )

When Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton first applied the blue greasepaint in the late 1980s in New York City, it's hard to imagine that phenomenon that would become Blue Man Group.

Today, millions of fans around the world have become mesmerized by the show featuring three quizzical, curious, provocative blue characters who challenge social norms and make broad, bold (and often humorous) statements about this crazy world we share.

The troupe has grown to include many members today, and the show recently landed at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa for a run that continues through Nov. 20. I had the pleasure of seeing the show, a vividly entertaining spectacle that's as smart as it is funny.

If you're not familiar with the show, it's a loosely themed collection of scenarios featuring the Blue Men, who communicate not through words but through silent, visual acting and lots of tribal drumming. Their "sketches" make many comments about modern technology and its numbing effect on society, and the trio has fun piercing the bubbles of societal norms through a dizzying array of special effects, sleight of hand, a little magic and plenty of ingenious pantomime.

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Not contained to the stage, they roam the crowd as well, interacting with the audience while also looking for some willing volunteers to join them in the act. It is a thoroughly entertaining, thought-provoking show, and as one of the Blue Man Bhurin Sead told me the next day, it's perfect for all ages.

"One of the best things for me about the show is how, whether you're 5, 15, 25, 50 or 80, the show is very appealing," he said. "Primarily, I think because we encourage the audience to let go and allow themselves to simply have a good time in the moment. Who doesn't want to do that?

"There's a childlike innocence to the characters based on letting one find joy in taking risks. That's a very universal thing, I think."

Sead also described what it's first like when you become a member of the show. First, you are trained as an actor in one of the three roles. Over the course of time, you are taught the other two roles so that parts can be traded each night, which keeps everything fresh.

As for the (thick) makeup, Sead told me the first time he put on the latex ball cap and blue greasepaint up to the eye line, it was somewhat uncomfortable — but now it seems completely normal. In fact, he likes the feeling it gives him.

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