Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

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Columnist John Katsilometes: Blue Man Group is red hot

John Katsilometes' column appears Tuesdays and Sundays. Reach him at 259-2327 or at [email protected]

Describing the Blue Man Group's stage act to the uninitiated is never easy.

There are three of them and they wear skull caps covered with wet, blue paint. One stands in the middle and tosses paint balls into the mouth of a guy standing to his right, who spits colored fluid onto a square board covered with a bleached white sheet.

Yes!

The third one stands about 20 feet to his left and fields marshmallows thrown by the one in the middle. He catches about 30 and stuffs them all into his mouth, one at a time, until the marshmallows are seeping out of his face. Then he grabs a black board and slowly regurgitates all of the marshmallows, so it makes a two-foot tower of white glop. Then he slaps a big $4,000 price tag in front of it.

Love it!

That's just a taste of the Blue Man Group's oddball brand of performance art, which will take over the 1,200-seat Luxor theater in February for a show carrying the misleadingly inert title "Blue Man Group: Live at Luxor." The goo-slathered entertainers will replace "Imagine, A Theatrical Odyssey," which closes at the end of the year. Tickets priced at $65 and $55 are already on sale.

The Blue Man Group, which provided a 20-minute preview for the media at Luxor on Thursday afternoon, opened off-Broadway in 1991 and has since spawned performances in Boston and Chicago. In Las Vegas, the Blue Man Group eagerly enter competition in an expanding field of eclectic, language-free shows.

Specifically, the Blue Men share the same realm as Cirque du Soleil's wordless but visually and musically dazzling "Mystere" and "O," which also appeal to any age or ethnicity. But more than those two shows, the Blue Man Group is venturing to the outer limits of the bizarre.

"When we first started, we were talking characters, but we thought we'd be more enigmatic if we didn't speak. We wanted to take the language out of our audience's intellect," said Chris Wink who, along with co-creators Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman, performed at the Luxor preview. "We give credit to Cirque du Soleil for changing the rules, for stretching the entertainment (in Las Vegas) a little bit. We want to stretch it even more."

The Blue Man Group is backed by a percussion-driven six-man band dressed in florescent costumes. The Blue Men pound away on drums and long, winding plastic pipes. They pour brightly colored paint atop drum skins, sending splashes of neon paint into the air and gawking around in mock fascination.

It might seem no more than mindless experimentation. But there is a point.

"It's a way of taking a satirical look at modern art, the pretentious side of it," Wink said. "Not to take anything away from anyone, but we don't like mimes. We don't like clowns or magicians or a lot of other forms of nonspeaking entertainment. We want to communicate in a way that's fun and smart."

Chiefly, the Blue Man Group strives to be different -- even in a city burgeoning with variety like Las Vegas.

"Las Vegas has always had a lot of fun being a little tacky," Wink said. "That's fine, but I don't think you'd call us tacky."

You'd probably call it art. Weird art. And like art, I might not know weird, but I know what I like. This, I like.

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