That three guys in bright blue makeup who bang on giant PVC pipes with mallets continue to inspire such devotion is as amazing as the show itself. If you’re one of the handful of people in the Chicago metro area who hasn’t seen it yet, please ask the couple next door for a blow-by-blow description–they’ve probably watched the show eight times. Better yet, bring them along: for the first time since 1997, large portions (in the second act) have been reworked. Some of the new material–culled from the concert tour that supported the 2003 album The Complex–lacks the subtlety of the vaudeville routines: a satire of bloated rock ‘n’ roll histrionics quickly devolves into a ham-fisted rock-concert recapitulation. But Blue Man Group still offers a highly visceral education in the tenuous division between art and trash, delivering a minilecture on painter Yves Klein one moment and the next creating a symphony by stuffing fistfuls of Cap’n Crunch in their mouths. Add in some of the oldies but goodies–a sing-along to Eminem (replacing Jefferson Airplane), the projection of one audience member’s endoscopy, a regurgitated-marshmallow sculpture–and Blue Man Group stands as the epitome of what not to expect from an evening at the theater. But is it art? Like authentic Chinese cooking or a bad acid trip, you’ll know when you see it. Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted, 773-348-4000. Open run: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 7 and 10 PM; Saturdays, 4, 7, and 10 PM; Sundays, 1, 4, and 7 PM; Sunday, April 11, 4 and 7 PM only; Wednesday, April 28, 2 and 8 PM. $46-$56.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ken Howard.