IMG 9555Giant eyeballs float over the audience and check everyone out before the show.  Scrolling LED boards on each side of the stage give the audience instructions.  PVC tubes are still used to make music.  Paint is still spattered.  The finale is an explosion of audience participation, filled with toilet paper, smoke rings and huge, glowing balls!  And your hosts are still the silent, stoic, silly, and inventive Blue Men.

Formed in 1987, Blue Man Group opened their first show “Tubes” in 1991 at the Astor Place Theater, where it still plays today.  The success of the NYC show spawned casts in Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Germany, Canada, the U.K., Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and of course...Las Vegas!  

IMG 9556In 2002, my partner and I took the first of many trips together to Las Vegas.  We chose to stay at the Luxor, which at the time, was home to BMG’s first Vegas show.  As neither of us had seen the New York incarnation, we decided to check them out.  Being, at that time, a theater techie myself, I enjoyed the show tremendously, not just for the sly humor of the Blue Men, but for the ingenious sound, lighting and technical effects they employed.

“Smokin’”, their newest show at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, combines several smart new pieces with some old favorites from shows past:

IMG 9559As a pre-show treat, two “eyeballs”, a Baby eyeball and a Mommy eyeball, float onstage from the wings, and proceed to explore the theater and investigate the audience.

The house lights drop and loud, percussive music is heard, while spotlights silhouette the Blue Men against a sheer curtain.  

A piece I like to call “Spin Art” demonstrates the Blue Men’s skill at catching things with their mouths.  One catches what appear to be gumballs, but turn out to be capsules filled with paint.  He takes a small canvas square, spins it, and spits the different colored paints, creating a spin art masterpiece.  The other Blue guy catches what look to be marshmallows.  He proceeds to catch an extraordinary number of them, stretching his mouth and cheeks beyond logical proportion.  The art he eventually creates is wonderful and ridiculous.

A piece I’ve nicknamed Modern Plumbing, has the Men fooling around with PVC pipes and creating different music and tones.IMG 9561

“Feast” is another holdover from the original show.  It involves selecting a  woman from the audience and inviting her onstage to share in their scrumptious dinner of....a Twinkie!  

A new piece, featuring three huge Smart Phones is amusing, with the Men darting behind the phones, only to appear on the screens themselves, often in new costumes - one Blue Man jumps behind a phone, appears onscreen as Carmen Miranda, and jumps back out from behind the phone, in full Miranda drag.  A lightning fast costume change that gets whoops of approval from the audience!

The Robot of the Year Awards are held, with various mechanical devices, including the ATM, taking home trophies!  This leads to a piece where two full-sized, absolutely real car assembly robotic arms are introduced and join the Blue Men in a thunderously percussive piece of music and staging that has to be seen to be believed!

IMG 9554Another new piece entitled Brain Drumming demonstrates, in simplistic terms, how our brain works: stimulus causes a signal to travel along neural pathways, connecting with the receptors.  The Men bring out large drums to create the stimuli.  When they beat the drums, various pathways along the ceiling light up as the signal travels.  The receptors are huge, glowing balls, seemingly hanging above us for no other reason before, but now we understand!  When the signal reaches the receptors, the balls light up, glowing brightly.

IMG 9551Along with all of this, there’s a gentleman selected from the audience who gets to ass-ist with painting the worlds largest emoticonIMG 9553 (Yes. With his butt), and there’s a dance number where a deep resonant voice instructs you to “Shake That Thang” and proceeds to explain what “that thang”is by reciting a huge list: “Your rear end, your hind quarters, your backside, your bottom, your junk in the trunk, your badonkadonk, your squash tart, your J Lo’s......”

Eventually, the Blue Men wheel out several “Smoke Drums” which, when hit from behind, belch out perfect smoke rings that fly into the house.

IMG 9550The Brain Drum is then brought back onstage and upon giving it the hardest whack ever, the neural pathways become overloaded and the giant receptor/balls are released and fall down into the house.  The audience happily bounces the balls around, rolls of toilet paper are unspooled from the back of the house, confetti cannons go off, and chaos ensues!  

This brings the show to an end, but for an encore: This is the piece that put Blue Man Group on the cultural map - Nothing but theIMG 9563 three of them drumming on oil barrels, lit from beneath, each splashed by a different colored paint contained in the drumheads.  It’s noisy, messy, frenetic...and unforgettable.

Although the audience I was with had a fabulous time, this isn’t the show for everyone.  Some folks don’t like the long stretches of silence, with nothing to do but watch - they find it dull.  I actually enjoyed THIS version better than the one I saw all those years ago at the Luxor!

IMG 9565I find that the appeal of Blue Man Group lies in it’s combination of quirky innocence and technological savvy - the Blue Men are like silent aliens discovering our world and reflecting it back to us, often with hilarious results.  So for an evening of whimsical, silly, thought provoking, jaw dropping entertainment, go and shake that thang with Blue Man Group!