When the very last
member of the audience left the Blue Man Group theater back on January 22nd,
that's literally when the work began.
The crew at the Universal Orlando Resort had only two weeks to give this CityWalk
venue a $5 million, hi-tech makeover and they weren't going to waste a moment.
After working round-the-clock to strip this performance
space down to its bare deck (not to mention transforming the back wall of this
theater into a massive jumbotron), Universal Orlando unveiled the revamped
& enhanced version of its new Blue Man Group show yesterday. Which manages
to preserve what made the original production so popular with Central Florida
visitors while -- at the same time -- adding a whole-new hi-tech satirical edge
to the proceedings.
Phil Stanton, co-founder of Blue Man Group at yesterday'spress conference at the Universal Orlando Resort
As Phil Stanton, the co-founder of Blue Man Group explained
yesterday as he spoke with reporters, tablet computers and text messaging have
really transformed the ways people interact with one other these days. And not
necessarily in a good way. Which is why these hi-tech devices are now ripe
targets for satire, at least as far as the Blue Man Group is concerned.
This is why a whole new section has been added to this show where
the Blue Men interact with GiPads (think gigantic iPads). There's also some fun new riffs on the dangers
of multitasking, not to mention how isolating text messaging can be sometimes
Huge hi-tech devices provide fitting backgroundsfor classic low-comedy bits
Don't worry. The low-comedy stuff that used to make the Blue
Man Group show so hugely popular with Universal Orlando visitors (i.e. how the performers would catch marshmallows with
their mouths, how they'd drum on PVC pipes, how audience members in the first
few rows had to wear ponchos to avoid getting splattered with brightly-colored
paint and dyes) haven't been dropped to make room for hi-tech satire. If
anything, some of the newer elements that have recently been folded into this
show have actually improved classic moments.
Take -- for example -- that dance party which traditionally
closes out each Blue Man Group performance.
It used to be that -- as this show came to a close -- the audience found
itself encased in rolls & rolls of toilet paper. Now -- in an effort to be
a wee bit greener (i.e. cut back on the pounds of toilet paper that the Blue
Man Group first has to collect and then recycle at the end of every performance)
as well as add an interactive edge to the proceedings -- nine 7-foot-wide beach
balls now fall from the rafters as the dance party begins. And as these gigantic
glowing spheres get batted about by members
of the audience, they actually respond to lighting queues that are coming from
the stage. Which means that these beach balls change color as they bounce
around the room.
Copyright Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved
And Universal Orlando executives clearly approve of the
changes that have been made to that resort's Blue Man Group show. Given that
UOR has just extended the BMG's agreement to perform at Universal CityWalk for
another 5 years.
So if you'd like to check all of the new music, staging and
hi-tech special effects that have recently been added to the Universal Orlando
version of the Blue Man Group show ... Well, while this performance art piece
is still technically in dress rehearsal for the next seven days as the
performers then get used to all of their new music & lighting cues, the
revamped version of Blue Man Group is expected to officially open to the public
next Friday night, February 24th.
And if what Stanton said yesterday proves to be true, we
should look for some of these newer elements of the Orlando version of Blue Man
Group to soon pop up in the Las Vegas production as that show shifts venues
later this year, moving from the Venetian Resort over to the Monte Carlo. More
to the point, don't be surprised if you see Phil & Co. making further tweaks
to Blue Man Group in the not-so-distant future.
"We tweak our shows all the time. But in Orlando, the
culture shifted so much in (the past) five years we wanted (do something to
make this particular version of Blue Man Group seem that much fresher), stay
relevant," he said. "(Hopefully) we won't need to (revisit and revamp
this production of the show) again until cellphones are embedded in our heads. (Which)
may not be long."
Looks awesome! I used to work for BMG in Boston several years ago. I think it was my favorite job! Of course that theatre is very small, I doubt those beach balls would even fit inside. :)
BMG has always been a commentary on modern art and technology so these changes don't surprise me. I'm dying to see them in action though!
I guess someday I'll have to get down to Florida to check it out.
Oh and fyi, it's not actually toilet paper...just looks like it. ;)
These new bits you mention are already in the touring production which played Columbus, OH last week.