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Gerald Carpenter: Blue Man Group Begins Un-Hostile Takeover of The Granada

Theater League tour makes a three-show stop in Santa Barbara

The Blue Man Group will bring its free-form cultural phenomenon to a Theater League-sponsored performance at The Granada, with three shows, at 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.

As far as I have been able to discover, there is no connection — other than the obvious one of color — between the Blue Man Group and the Blue Meanies, who were the villains of the Beatles’ animated feature, Yellow Submarine (“Are you bluish? You don’t look bluish.”).

If anything, the Blue Man Group are Blue anti-Meanies.

Part percussion ensemble, part satirical review, part PowerPoint presentation, the Blue Man Group shows seem mainly to be engaged in stealth education. Innocent incomprehension is their default mode; it is their armor as they do battle with the myriad hypocrisies and scams that beset us in Marshall McLuhan’s Age of Information.

For instance, there is their purchase of an apocryphal volume, The Rock Concert Instruction Manual, which the Blue Man Group has used in both “The Complex Rock Tour” and the “How to Be a MegaStar Tours 2.0 and 2.1.” Blending the techniques of PowerPoint and television infomercial, the manual purportedly takes the would-be impresario/rockstar step-by-step, from creating their persona to ending the show. As the Blue Man trio follows the instructions, much disingenuous hilarity ensues.

The Blue Man Group was founded in 1987 by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. They produce and perform theatrical shows and concerts featuring popular music, comedy and multimedia; recorded music and scores for film and television; TV appearances for shows such as The Tonight Show, Las Vegas, Scrubs, FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, and Arrested Development; and a children’s museum exhibit (“Making Waves”). So successful have their shows been that there is now an administrative umbrella organization called Blue Man Productions with a staff of 50 or so people. Surviving charges of patent theft and union busting, the Blue Man Group lives and thrives.

Tickets for The Blue Man Group start at $68 and are available at The Granada box office, 1214 State St., or by calling 805.899.2222. Click here to purchase tickets online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer.

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