Blue Man Group launches revamped version of classic production
Back in 1987, three friends put together a comedic performance art piece that started with small shows in New York clubs and grew into a full-fledged production four years later housed in its own showroom, the 300-seat Astor Place Theatre. Blue Man Group still performs there to this day.
For Las Vegas, something much more dramatic is required in a 1,200-seat space at the Monte Carlo. The men in blue just revamped their show to stay fresh with the times, retooling about half of the acts, adding new vignettes and removing others. Only two pieces remain the same, says Michael Dahlen, one of the two creative directors of Blue Man Group.
“We’re constantly looking at our shows and thinking, ‘What’s next?’ It’s a real luxury as an organization to do that,” Dahlen says. “I just don’t think Blue Man Group survives if that’s not part of our DNA.”
He says the whole 105-minute show flows better with these upgraded acts. Crazier instruments and snazzier lighting add to the dramatic way the new show unfolds.
“We didn’t change the cast for this show,” Dahlen says of the eight actors who rotate in and out for different shows. “It’s just new material for them to learn.”
The core of the show, however, remains intact: Three quirky bald characters with bright blue masks and black long-sleeved shirts and pants first come onstage to play their theatrical percussion, an emblematic symbol of the show since day one. Fluorescent paint pours (and pours and pours) over drumheads and splatters on everything, including the performers’ outfits.
Another vignette features PVC pipes shortened and extended to make higher and lower notes when drummed, and graphics on the new high-tech video screens accompany the rhythm. To really give this segment more power, Blue Man Group brought in Broadway heavyweight lighting designer Kevin Adams to reimagine the LED screens, lasers and more.
New instruments courtesy of Michael Curry, who designed the costumes in The Lion King, make an appearance as well. His metallic insect creatures walk out onto the stage rattling on drum sets. Another, dubbed the “kleinulum,” plays like a giant version of chimes.
Some segments, however, remain unchanged. In a signature part of the show, the characters catch bright paint balls and marshmallows in their mouths. Each character spits out either paint or marshmallows onto a plain white canvas, turning one into an abstract work of art, the other a sculpture of at least 30 marshmallows.
With the revamp, Blue Man Group moves further into the digitized world but stays true to their satiric heritage by making a commentary on the constant presence of technology in our everyday lives. The trio plays with three giant phones equipped with apps that digitize and mimic their movements as they dance. The question is: Do the Blue Men control the phone or do the phones control the Blue Men?
It’s the finale where the changes are really apparent. No spoilers here, but the endless rolls of tissue paper are gone, replaced by a UV-ray reactive paper. Says Dahlen: “It’s always amazing when you get the courage to remove something that you’re really fond of and see where it goes.”
Monte Carlo, 7 & 9:30 p.m. April 5-7 & April 9-11, $74.90-$199 VIP package, Behind the Blue package $50 per person upgrade to any ticket type, discounts for military and children. 877.459.0268