Rejuvenated Blue Man Group Production Wows
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
For 17 years, the Blue Man Group has produced massive amounts of laughter and entertainment for all ages in the Boston Charles Playhouse. With trademark acts like jello flung at the audience and unfathomable beats created out of plastic piping, this has become a must-see show not only for Bostonians, but for anyone who visits the city. In fact, to demonstrate this incredible reputation, the performance has established the tagline, “If you haven’t seen Blue Man Group, you haven’t seen Boston.”
As one of the city’s largest attractions, it comes as no surprise that there are consistent changes to keep the show up-to-date. Known for its commentary on and lampooning of current events, this act is always evolving. For example, to reflect society’s current obsession with technology, the Blue Man Group has included several segments that focus around giant “GiPad”s, a clear nod to the tablets and smartphones everywhere today.
Another new segment has been introduced that touches upon texting and the digital world of communication as two “avatars” are lit up on dark screens as they send messages, filled with texting-based jokes, back and forth. These, among other changes, have kept the show from becoming repetitive or boring even to repeat visitors.
No matter how much time passes, one thing will remain the same: the skilled performers who breathe life into this show.
Whenever music is being crafted out of piping tubes, drums, or hidden instruments with the band, it raises the audience’s excitement even higher. The melodies, rhythms, and songs can be arguably one of the most important parts of the entire show, and without them, there would be a significant gap within it.
Spearheading this aspect of the show is Boston’s resident music director Steve Ballstadt, whose passion for what he loves to do and wild talent give the Boston location a significant advantage. Hailing from Canada, Ballstadt was a sociology and anthropology major, and remarked that he never really thought he would become a music director in any right, especially not with the Blue Man Group.
“I’d always been playing the drums, never taking lessons, and would think ‘Oh, it’d be so great to be a pro-drummer or make my life as a musician.’ But I decided to get school out of the way first. But then, the more people told me I better have a back-up plan the more I wanted to not have a back-up plan and just do it,” Ballstadt said.
Explaining how he first got the gig in the group, Ballstadt attributes it entirely to being in the right place at the right time. After playing with an artist in a rehearsal space in Toronto, he happened to run into a friend who just got the job to play with Blue Man Group in Orlando and who mentioned that they were looking for a drummer. Ballstadt decided to try his luck and cold-call the company, which led to an audition and then the job.
But Ballstadt had never seen the show in his life, so he had no idea what to expect.
“I couldn’t get a grip on what was going on. I didn’t know what to do. I never did theatre before. I came from a rock background, but I figured, ‘I’ll just keep saying yes until I have to say no.’ I mean, being Canadian, you never expect an American company to offer you a job, and suddenly you’re in New York … then I just went off and played in the international shows.”
He has now played in seven or eight countries with the Blue Man Group over the course of eight years. Travelling all over the world, Ballstadt reflected that he has been to some amazing cities, but he greatly appreciates Boston. “I love it! Briefly I’d been here before, but I heard so much about it, so many great things. It’s fantastic. What’s not to like?” And with Ballstadt as music director, the same words apply even more to Boston’s production of the show.
If that isn’t enough, the Blue Man Group has one more incentive: their prices. They have student rush tickets available, priced at only $30 as compared to the regular $49. They can be purchased up to an hour prior to each performance, based on availability, and cash is the only method of payment accepted, with a max of two per ID. While tickets cannot be bought online, it is possible to call 617-426-6912 to inquire about them on the day of a show. n