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Friday, May 2, 2008

Blue Man Group wants you

It's been nearly five months since the blue-painted, robotic Blue Man Group first landed in Japan from planet America. During that two-month run, thousands of audience members experienced a close encounter of the cobalt kind.

Now the azure-colored baldies are back, putting on shows until Sept. 28 — including every day during the Golden Week holidays — at their exclusive venue, the 900-seat, specially built Invoice Theatre in Roppongi.

But just what is BMG anyway? Is it a play? Dance? Comedy show? Or a music concert? Well, it's all of these — and then some. Just don't expect to quietly sit in your seat. Once you are in BMG's theater, you become a participant, a member of BMG's 100-minute nonstop show.

At a performance in early April, BMG's greeting staff were there at the door handing out white hachimaki (headbands) to wear during the show. Once inside the high-ceilinged, factorylike venue, LED bulletin boards urged the audience to celebrate so-and-sos birthday by singing "Happy Birthday."

After this playful warmup, the fun began when one blue man poured paints into the next blue man's kettle drum and the red, yellow and blue colors splashed and shot up in the darkness with each stroke of his "rhythm stick."

Then three performers with white eyes appearing to bulge out of their blue-painted faces staged an imaginative comical mime performance. As things raced along, constantly taking unexpected turns, liquids flew and sometimes an audience member was brought onto the stage and turned into a performer.

Inevitably the whole auditorium gets drawn in. Each audience member even had a hand in the finale as rolls of white vinyl tape were passed forward, seat by seat from the back, to the stage.

All seats at the Invoice Theatre are 25 meters or less from the stage, offering everyone an unobstructed view of the performance. As of April 25, the first five rows have become "poncho seats" — those sitting there get complimentary vinyl ponchos to wear over their clothes.

Blue Man Group in Tokyo runs till Sept. 28 at The Invoice Theatre, a six-minute walk from Roppongi Station (Hibiya and Oedo subway lines) and Azabu-juban Station (Exit 7, Namboku Line).

Tickets are ¥7,500 for regular seats, or ¥8,500 for the poncho seats. For more details, call the Blue Man Group Japan Project Office at (03) 5414-3255, or visit blueman.jp

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