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BLUE MAN GROUP - BRAIN TRIP

BLUE MAN GROUP
BRAIN TRIP
By Brittany Santos

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The famed trio of blue guys that have become a Las Vegas staple are now in residence at the Monte Carlo Las Vegas, and they are charming new fans everyday. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Blue Man Group, you need to put it on your list of “got to see” next time you are in town. The experience, especially to those completely unfamiliar to the show, is really mind-blowing. First, get those silly smurfs out of your head. Blue Man Group is a musical, comedy, and visual experience unlike any other. My first exposure to the crew was as a tourist, myself. My friends and I were looking to buy some tickets to a show we hadn’t yet seen. As a result of seeing poster after poster of the bald headed blue guys at the Luxor, we finally decided out of sheer curiosity that we had to check them out. We sat in the Poncho section (there is good reason for those things) and were completely blown away by what we saw. So, when invited to see the new revamped Blue Men at the Monte Carlo, I couldn’t wait to see them again.

One really cool new addition to the show is a small parade that goes on just before the doors open for the audience. I didn’t realize this was going to happen, so I only witnessed the parade from a distance. From what I could tell, it really seemed to get people ramped up for the show ahead, as they were waiting in line at the door. It was a parade of puppets, performers, and robots, which marched around before the show. Get there by 6:15pm (if you’re going to the 7:30pm show), if you don’t want to miss it; (by 7:45pm for the 9:00pm show). It created a mobile kind of EDC type experience for the whole casino floor. There are quite a few free shows here in Las Vegas, and this is one of the more accessible ones. The crowds that build up around some of the other notable free tourist attractions in Vegas are huge. It can be exhausting going to them, waiting with the crowds, and in order to truly enjoy seeing them, you have to arrive quite a bit before the show is going to begin. This Blue Man parade is completely the opposite. If you grab a seat toward the casino at the restaurant Dragon Noodle, you can watch the procession as it wiggles and shimmies its way through the casino, all while enjoying some noodles. The best part of watching this from afar was witnessing the elderly unsuspecting slot machine fiends that were taken by surprise by the parade, and then are lured into participating in the multi-dimensional dance party that I am sure they weren’t prepared for. For an even cooler way to experience this pre-show: (If you are part of the M life gambling rewards program at Monte Carlo) you can sign up to be in the parade. Pretty neat surprise for anyone coming to town – just remember to tell them I gave you the idea.

The most notable addition to the show, other than the gigantic 3-D puppet, is the robots (Showbots). Upon entering Blue Man Group Theater and finding your seat, a robot comes out into the audience. She (at least you assume it’s a she, from her sparkly robot ponytail) proceeds to methodically prepare the showroom for the blue boys. Armed with a spray bottle and towel, she makes 

her way around the room. Some funny bits are sprinkled in as she continues to clean – such as trying to shine up a bald man’s head in the audience. You also have to watch out when she comes in your general direction – the spray bottle could inadvertently squirt you and not the thing she was trying to clean. After a while of her antics, two screens with digital red lettering start scrolling to the left. This, I remember, from my first viewing of the show. It teases and gets the audience laughing before Blue Man Group takes to the stage. Now I am going to be brutally honest for a moment. If you have never seen Blue Man Group, you have to see them. It truly is an unforgettable experience. I, however, have had the opportunity to see so many of the shows here in town, and I have one small complaint. I felt that the new stuff that was added to the show did bring it much more up-to-date and current. No more pager references, and now there is a bit with three big smartphones, instead of cue cards. It just felt as if some of the new additions to the show, as a result, took away from some of the musical oomph of the show. Take that small critique, as you will, and keep in mind, I am a spoiled journalist who gets to see a lot of entertainment for free. With that being said, I would still recommend you go see these three blue boys and be a part of an amazing experience.

In fact, looking back, I think that was part of the problem when I went to see the show with the new robot girls. The best way to experience Blue Man Group is the first time. It’s like: If you were to watch The Sixth Sense, and someone already told you that Bruce Willis had been a ghost the entire time. Completely ruins it for you. It is the same way with this show. The first time you see it, you are completely dazzled by what happens. This is still true. The new ending, though, was over-the-top and just so amazing. The original ending was spectacular enough, but now they have added floating eyeball puppets that slowly come into the show about halfway through the show. The eyeballs are part of the show, and you kind of wonder why, but these puppets hold your eyeballs’ attention (pardon the pun) and in the end, (the white paper, you remember) but they’ve added these big round beach ball things thrown in. So, you in the audience get to play a big volleyball game, all while dancing to the beat. At least these are better than a real volleyball though – one hit me when I wasn’t looking, and it didn’t hurt a bit. There was a younger boy around the age of ten that was sitting next to me and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his reaction to every part of the show. It was with his help, that I realized and saw that first time reaction to Blue Man Group, that I just didn’t have being a writer who’d experienced it all before.

Another new element to the show is the three guys taking you on a journey through the marvel that is our brain. Stunning lights and visual aids remind us how remarkable that lump of material is that sits in every head of ours. It was a lot better than my Biology teacher explained it in high school – with a lot better music. They use drums to demonstrate how brainwaves move and pass through our cortex. I don’t think I had thought about how much my brain does for me, prior to this. Unfortunately, there really is no way to thank your brain for all it does, except for maybe taking a Ginkgo Biloba supplement.

For those of you that have seen the show, like myself, don’t worry – some of the tried and true elements are still in the show. Twinkie moments with an audience member are still in there, as well as the fabulous artwork that these guys create with just their mouths. The marshmallow castle is still there, as are some of those great musical elements that I spoke of. One of the cutest moments of the show is when they break into a number about automation with robots that looked just like Johnny-Five out of the movie, “Short Circuit”. They riff on slash from Guns N’ Roses, by having the robot wear his signature locks and simulate a headbang, too. They have also added a huge neon puppet that towers over all the musicians and performers in the show. It was part of the parade that walks around the Monte Carlo before the show begins, but makes for a much more dramatic display onstage.

One part of the show that I am a bit fuzzy on whether it was new or not, was a Blue Man take on the smoke signal. Their drums released trippy smoke rings over the crowd’s heads, in a dazzling, once again, EDC-type of experience. Hopefully, no one in our crowd that night was dancing with Molly, because I would think that would take you into a full-on sensory overload. Cue the Miley tongue maneuver, people. Let’s put it this way: You don’t need to trip on LSD like Steve Jobs, to enjoy this show. These performers have figured out how to give you a trip, without ever leaving their showroom.

Chris Wink, one of the founders of Blue Man Group, and one of the first Blue Men, sums it up best on the Blue Man Group website. He admits that their show isn’t really a show or a play. He said that their goal was to create a heightened sense of being alive, and that every day that you are on this crazy planet is a gift. And essentially, that is what they try to do, night after night after night. And to that, we at STRIPLV say: “Thank you,” to our boys in blue. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded.

Blue Man Group performs nightly at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino Las Vegas.

FAST FACTS ABOUT BLUE MAN GROUP

• Blue Man Group co-creators Chris Wink and Matt Goldman met in junior high school. They met third Blue Man creator, Phil Stanton, in college in 1986.

• In one of their very first “happenings” in the late ‘80s, the Blue Men held a funeral for the dying decade in Central Park.

• For their first three years of performances at off-Broadway’s Astor Place Theater, Wink, Goldman and Stanton had no understudies.

• Nearly 70 drums are used in each production of Blue Man Group.

• The Blue Men use greasepaint in the shade of “Yves Klein blue” (a French artist known for his blue monochrome paintings).

• Evita star, Ricky Martin, was the first celebrity to try “paint drumming”, alongside the Blue Men.

• Past and present members of Blue Man Group created the band Uberschall, an improvisational rock group based in Las Vegas.

• There are currently six stationary productions of Blue Man Group throughout the world (New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Berlin), one U.S. national touring production, and one show aboard the Norwegian Epic cruise ship. Each production varies slightly.

• BMG started a private preschool in NYC for children pre-k to second grade.

• During a 14-show week, these Blue dudes knock back more than 490 marshmallows, and over 2,900 Twinkies.

• To keep their blue complexions glossy and goopy, the crew of three uses up to 78 gallons of tempera paints.

• Their first full-length show was produced in NYC, and was entitled: Tubes.

• In the early stages of the group’s formation, the cast would talk to the audience while still in makeup after the show. Later the decision was made for them to stay in character as the audience left the showroom and would give “autographs” on programs by smudging a blue paint mark on them.

• Blue Man Group cast is happy to meet audience members after the show—but they won’t talk! For extra fun, try showing them your iPhone or Kindle.

• In their infamous marshmallow mouth-catching trick, the Blue Men use cold chunks of cream cheese, molded to look like marshmallows (real marshmallows expand too quickly).

• On TV’s Arrested Development, Tobias Funke (played by David Cross) is cast as a Blue Man Group understudy and frequently leaves blue paint smudges around the Bluth family home.

• On October 10, 2012, the Las Vegas cast of Blue Man Group went skydiving from their old quarters at the Venetian to their new home at the Monte Carlo.

• The Blue Men have made television cameos on both 30 Rock and Scrubs.

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