Live from Las Vegas: `Blue Man Group’

Second night of the Theater Dogs Vegas adventure took us to Blue Man Group at the Venetian next door, and I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed. Can a Vegas show full of so many bells and whistles really be boring?

Maybe boring is too strong a word, but there are dull stretches in this nearly 100-minute show involving the three blue men of the title wandering into the audience and not doing much while video cameras capture their so-called exploits. During a lengthy audience participation moment (the blond woman dragged up on stage the night we were there was a tremendous good sport and even at the Twinkie Light placed before her), the comedy proceeded to diminishing returns.

Unlike Stomp, where the message is simple and clear, (rhythm good, music everywhere), Blue Man belies its performance art roots and is sorty of brainy, obtuse and downright bizarre. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its elements of humor (of the silent movie variety as the performers utter not a word, though there is narration about plumbing, the interior of the eye and other assorted oddities). Shoving marshmallows into one’s mouth, chomping on Cap’n Crunch cereal, spewing edible grossness from the valve in one’s chest, splashing about in colored water — it’s all vaguely amusing without ever being involving.

The big finale, with the avalanche of paper moving from the back of the theater to the stage is fun, and with the big tubes and wires twirling above the audience and the seven-piece band raging away, recalls a rave minus the mind-altering substances.

I kept waiting for the show to get into gear and show us something really good, but that moment, when it finally arrived, was brief and didn’t even involve the bald blue men in the black suites. The dazzling moment in this show is a piece of live animation involving spinning tables full of figures that, while spinning under strobe lights, appear to be doing a primitive dance.

A bit about a male volunteer pulled from the audience and turned, unceremoniously, upside down and flung, paint-covered, at a blank canvas, feels phony and totally unnecessary.

Blue Man Group certainly succeeds in bringing a little New York avant garde to the Vegas masses (and our Friday-night audience seemed to eat it up), but I’d rather see the high art of Cirque du Soleil or the low art of Stomp. Or, really, what I’d like while I’m in Vegas, is to see Donn Arden’s Jubilee! again. As the billboards say, the venerable early ’80s showgirl spectacular is “the reasons rhinestones were invented.” Give me a cheesy soundtrack, feathers, sparkles, Bob Mackie costumes and the sinking of the Titanic any day. You can keep your blue guys.

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2 thoughts on “Live from Las Vegas: `Blue Man Group’

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