By Sandra Chambers
What began more than 25 years ago as an impromptu street performance by three close friends in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has evolved into an award-winning global entertainment company. Their one-of-a-kind theatrical performances reverberate with heart-pumping percussion music, dazzling backdrops and paint splattering antics.
The original Blue Man Group, comprised of Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton, took the show from the streets to local clubs and then opened their first full-fledged performance at the Astor Place Theater in New York City in 1991. Over the next 25 years other resident shows were established in Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and Orlando. In addition to these permanent venues, the group has performed in 15 countries and has been seen by more than 35 million people worldwide since 1991.
The Blue Man Group has been entertaining audiences with its immersive performances at Orlando’s Universal City Walk since June 2007. The one-hour, 45-minute family-friendly show incorporates ideas from several sources including Jackson Pollock’s use of paint to express emotions and the variety shows of the early 20th century vaudeville theatre genre. The drumming of everything from paint cans to PVC pipe instruments has been a core ingredient in the show from the beginning, but modern technology has also inspired the addition of some new material.
The show underwent a major re-imagination in 2013 with approximately 50 percent new content created. A huge LED board now displays constant jokes to get the audience laughing even before the show begins. With giant backdrops of nine-foot-tall smartphones, the Blue Man Group pokes fun at our obsession with personal tech devices. The finale has evolved into a gigantic dance party with lighted helium balls dropping from the ceiling.
Audience participation is a key feature of the show. The popular “poncho zone” seating is for those fans wanting to vicariously interact with the performers by being splattered with paint or other materials from the stage. Other lucky members of the audience are invited on stage to participate in the fun. For those who don’t make the cut to be on stage, photo ops with the cast are available after the show in a special Blue Man-themed lobby area. For more information, visit blueman.com.