Tag Archives: Blue Man Group

I-Spy: Animal art

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Next time your children are restless, consider a friendly game of “I-spy” ala art — encouraging them to look for art in everyday places, perhaps picking a kid-friendly theme like animal art.

Most of the photos in this post were taken during my everyday travels, but one — featuring the live snake — hails from the ASU Art Museum. Folks who attend the museum’s Nov. 5 “First Saturdays for Families” event can see the anaconda pictured above.

The snake is part of an exhibition titled Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect. “Diablo is pretty magnificent,” says the museum’s Deborah Sussman Susser, “and worth a visit.” How lovely to be on a first name basis with a reptile that’s morphed into an objet d’art.

I’m told that Jean Makin, who curates the museum’s annual family exhibition each summer, has put together another show titled “Just Animals” that runs through December.

“Kids’ view of their world includes furry, feathery and sometimes scaly friends,” says Makin. “They are part of a child’s family.” So seeing prints of fuzzy cats or fluffy dogs brings “instant recognition and comfort.”

“Art,” adds Makin, “can be very complex and unapproachable to a child, but packaged in an image of an animal, it is understandable. Little kids can draw animals from their memory and heart, conveying a sense of what that animal means to them.”

Families who attend the Saturday event will enjoy opportunities other animals can’t experience — like spin-painting and making musical instruments out of recycled materials.

Parents familiar with the Blue Man Group, performing at ASU Gammage through Sunday, know that some humans actually get paid for doing such things on stage.

I suppose that if my kids were little again (they’re all in college now), I’d challenge them to imagine a world where animals had the cameras and humans were the subject of all their photos.

Then I’d turn them loose with art materials so they could play with ideas about what those animals might capture with their cameras. Something tells me we’d make hilarious subjects.

— Lynn

Note: Animals lovers should check out the “National Geographic Live! Speaker Series” at Mesa Arts Center and an upcoming Childsplay production featuring “Lyle the Crocodile.” Click here for information on the Arizona Animal Welfare League, and here for information on the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College (which offers tours for 4th graders).

Coming up: A loaf of bread


A blast of blue!

Blue Man Group performs at ASU Gammage through Sunday

I first encountered the work of Blue Man Group while exploring a piece they donated to the Lied Children’s Discovery Museum in Las Vegas, but hadn’t seen them perform prior to attending opening night for their brief run at ASU Gammage (which ends this Sunday).

I went into the experience with a fair bit of skepticism, since I’m more of a traditional Broadway theater kind of a gal. My daughter Lizabeth, who joined me for most ASU Gammage shows before leaving to attend college in New York, offered sound advice: Don’t judge.

Tuesday’s nearly-packed house included folks of all ages, and everyone (other than a wailing baby) seemed to be having a great time. There was plenty of laughter and audience participation throughout, and two lucky audience members ended up joining Blue Man Group for a time on stage. Only one needed to wear full body protection.

The fun actually began before Blue Man Group took to the stage, as folks in two rows of seating added for this production donned the special gear provided — a clear hooded poncho for covering head and torso. It comes in handy when Blue Man Group makes some of their messier art on canvases sometimes given afterwards to younger members of the audience.

Folks who felt uncomfortable with loinclothed lads perched atop the arms of chairs at ASU Gammage during “Hair” last season will be relieved to know that Blue Man Group stays fully clothed for all their in-the-audience antics.

But before Blue Man Group takes the stage, there’s something you might call the warm-up act — a red crawl of words running across the top of the stage as if an Italian opera is taking place below. It’s got sensible tips designed to increase viewing pleasure, but it’s a sassy little thing.

Don’t text during the show, it warns, because it might frighten the old people. The old people to my left laughed the loudest, though the young people to my right are probably saying the same thing about me.

So here’s what I remember of the evening: Gumballs, marshmallows and film footage that looks remarkably like a trip down someone’s colon. Giant cell phones with apps presenting literary classics reduced to word counts you can easily “tweet.” Entertaining “tough love” for parents too busy with gizmos to pause for playtime. And blacklights the “Hair” hippies would die for.

Blue Man Group is an homage of sorts to the arts and sciences. Physics is cleverly couched in music making, and a brief lesson in animation creation quickly turns into a full-on dance party.

Giant props make their way from stage to audience, and back again. Visions of childhood food fights and teepeeing houses (consult your urban dictionary as needed here) return — and mild sexual innuendo entertains those with a taste for such things. 

Experiencing Blue Man Group is a bit like going to high school. You walk out smarter than you were when you walked in, and you get to experiment with all sorts of things along the way.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for additional show and ticket information, and here to learn more about Blue Man Group education initiatives like “Blue School” and “Invent an Instrument.”

Coming up: Homeschooling and the arts, From biology major to “Blue Man”

Ode to blue

I'd love to see The Blue Bike Kid Show picked up by PBS

I’ve got blue on the brain after learning that one of Lizabeth’s theater teachers, Boyd Branch, is launching a project called “The Blue Bike Kid Show” with Steve Wilcox and Elizabeth Peterson.

Blue Bike encourages kids ages 8-13 to shift their focus on technology from consuming to creating.

It’s got live, video and web components, and is seeking backers via an online “funding platform for creative projects” called “Kickstarter.” Cool.

While running with the blue theme, I discovered that the next “Music in the Garden” at the Desert Botanical Garden features “blues and boogie” by The DelRayz and Sistah Blue. It’s an adults only performance (Fri, June 17) with catered dining options and a “professional ballroom dance floor.” I suppose suggesting that we all wear blue might be a bit much.

ASU Gammage presents Blue Man Group as part of their 2011/2012 season (Photo: Paul Kolnink)

There’s plenty of blue at the Phoenix Zoo. But you’ll find wild of a whole different order when the “Blue Man Group” hits ASU Gammage Nov 1-6. Think three guys. Blue skin. No spoken word. And lots of technology.

If songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” are more your style, hold out for “Million Dollar Quartet,” coming to ASU Gammage June 5-10. 2012.

Chandler Center for the Arts presents “The Official Blues Brothers Revue” Sat, Oct 22. It’s an homage to characters Jake and Elwood Blues, first played by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. There’s nothing blue about them, really, except the name. It’s hard to imagine Jake and Elwood trading in those black suits, hats and shades for blue Spandex — though they might be tempted if told their skinny black ties give them a bit of that “The Book of Mormon” vibe.

The Phoenix Symphony performs Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin as part of their 2011/2012 Pop Series

No review of the blue would be complete without a mention of George Gershwin’s famous “Rhapsody in Blue.” It’s be performed by the Phoenix Symphony Jan 6-8, 2012. Again, no Spandex — but lots of women and men in black.

Perhaps those needing a Spandex fix will fare better when “live circus meets the live symphony” March 25-27, 2012 during the Phoenix Symphony’s “High Flying! Cirque de la Symphonie” concerts.

Remember too that the “Blue Star Museums” program offers free admission to more than 1000 participating museums for active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2011.

Blue Nude was painted by Pablo Picasso during his Blue Period

Click here for a list of participating Arizona museums — which include Arizona Museum for Youth, Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and more.

Surely somewhere there’s a Blue Star Museum housing works from Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period.” And I won’t rest until I find it.

— Lynn

Note: For those of you following the adventures of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (Hey–it’s a mostly blue costume!), there’s a review by The New York Times posted here. If you see the show, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com to let me know what you think.

Coming up: Playing “20 Questions,” Is your child a theater geek?, Fun with Free Arts

Update: Check out this blog post from Wired magazine featuring the Blue Bike Kid Show. Meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang Sun, June 26, at Tempe Beach Park when they hold a FREE nostalgic-style picnic from 5-7pm.

Broadway tales

After years of seeing touring Broadway shows at ASU Gammage in Tempe, Lizabeth will soon be enjoying shows on Broadway (Photo: James Trimble)

While Lizabeth and James were back East a while back for college theater program auditions (hers, not his), they faced plenty of tough choices. Which pizza joints to frequent. Which tourist attractions to explore. Which Broadway musicals to take in.

They ended up seeing a straight play off Broadway one night. Their other two choices, dictated in part by what they could snag last minute tickets to, were “Jersey Boys” and “American Idiot.”

It never occured to us that “Green Day’s American Idiot” might be making its way to Arizona, but we learned just recently that the rock musical is part of the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” series at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

Lizabeth saw American Idiot on Broadway -- but I'll be enjoying it during April 2012 at ASU Gammage in Tempe (Photo credit: James Trimble)

“We always like to have something new,” explains Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President of Cultural Affairs at ASU.

Other “new” offerings in the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” season at ASU Gammage include the “Blue Man Group.”

You might say Gammage is poised to “rock our world” this season.

But there’s also more sentimental fare — including “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “West Side Story,” and “Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.”

Lizabeth will be thrilled that one the shows she missed on Broadway, “Million Dollar Quartet,” is also coming to town. “La Cage Aux Folles” should prove equally fabulous and fun.

Thanks to three 2011-2012 special engagements (shows that aren’t part of the season ticket package), your gift-giving decisions just got a whole lot easier.

For winter holidays, give tickets to “Stomp” (Dec 28-31, 2011). For Valentine’s Day, think “Wicked” (Feb 15-March 11, 2012). Trust me — a change in theme from pink to green will be ever so appreciated. And for Mother’s Day or year-end teacher gifts, there’s “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

Especially during tough economic times, reflects Jennings-Roggensack, people appreciate the familiar. She sees the season as a perfect blend of the new and exciting with the familiar and comforting.

Lizabeth was thrilled when she learned of the 2011-2012 ASU Gammage line-up, because we’re longtime season ticket holders who rarely miss a show. At some point, however, the bad news struck her. She’ll likely be in New York — either studying or auditioning — when these shows hit Arizona.

But we’ll have a great time swapping “Broadway in Arizona” and Broadway in New York stories…

— Lynn

Note: ASU Gammage offers “Camp Broadway” June 6-10, 2011 for youth ages 10-17.

Coming: More new season announcements