Blue Man Group has been performing nonstop on Warrenton Street for two decades, and the show’s longevity has allowed it to extend to generations, kids, and a very special annual audience.
On any given night, the 505-seat theatre could be packed with any age or background, a testament to its universal appeal. The show is different each night, thanks to the unique audiences, and unlike a traditional theatrical show, which never changes a syllable, Blue Man Group is regularly tweaked and updated. Those who saw the show in years past will enjoy a new experience today.
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“We never thought of it as a kids show or an adult show,” says Jonathan Screnci, Blue Man Group Boston’s resident general manager, who has been with the company for 18 years. “It’s a show that is really family appropriate. You observe the people who come to see our show, it’s such a wide demographic — parents with kids, college students, people who saw the show in college or in their early 20s that now have children and are coming back to experience with their kids. It’s multigenerational, especially in Boston. We’re here all the time — 21 years, 365 days a year.”
The show is so popular with kids and families, school vacation weeks are some of its busiest times of the year. The production adds extra matinees and special events around February and April vacation weeks. The success of school vacation performances prompted the production to partner with Autism Speaks and offer sensory-friendly shows.
Now in its third year, the sensory-friendly Autism Speaks show is traditionally held in June, with mild adjustments to the regular lighting and sound. The performances have quickly become favorites for the cast.
“It’s a huge experience for us because it’s totally different than any other audience,” Blue Man Adam Erdossy says. “That show is special because it is new. We don’t know what’s gonna happen, it’s really exciting. It’s wonderful to see the parents experience that with the kids; it’s a gift for all of us. A lot of parents have told us the way their kids open up to us onstage, to this character we embody, is different than any other stimulation they’ve seen their kid have.”
“I think there is perhaps a special connection with the Blue Men, who rely on non-verbal communication to connect with each other and the audience in a searching, inquisitive way,” Screnci adds. “It’s also an opportunity to create a theatrical experience for that audience that feels appropriately challenging, yet comfortable. We work carefully with [Autism Speaks] to make the experience as rewarding as possible.”
Early on in any Blue Man Group show, it’s clear it breaks the rules. It’s interactive, noisy, bright, messy, and fun. Unlike a traditional theatre, where audiences are cautioned to not even unwrap candy for the noise it may make, Blue Man audiences are expected to have fun and interact with the cast, an ability that makes the show a great night for any family.
“For a lot of these kids and adults, it’s their first theatrical experience,” Screnci says. “It awakens a passion to dance and express themselves. What’s great about our show is it’s interactive, there’s a freedom in our show, in our audience, to just respond. It’s a great energy we value; the audience really is the fourth member of the show.”
— Melissa Shaw