Tidewater Traveler - September 2006



George Sellers

     Blue Velvet, Blue Suede Shoes, Blue on Blue, Blue Moon, Blue Lagoon, Blues Brothers, and even Blue Bonnet, Blue Belle and Blue Tooth – each has taken its place in the annals of Blue. And now a new Blue is carving its place in the chronicles of Blue history - Blue Man Group. Live, on stage, at the beautiful Venetian, one of the many quality hotels along the famous Las Vegas Strip, two blue men say nothing for nearly two hours. Through their silence the audience experiences a range of emotions, laughter being primary.
      The mere appearance of the two lead actors engages the imagination to determine how they achieve ‘the look.’ Blue skin is exposed from the neck up and from the wrists down, presenting an eerie, almost alien-like manifestation. The rest of their bodies is hidden by one-piece jump-suits - coveralls. Nose, lips, eyebrows, skin to the very edge of the eyes, including upper and lower eye lashes, is painted a shiny, deep-sky blue. Heads, including hair (if there is any) and ears, appear to be covered with a smooth rubber cap, but there is no visible line of demarcation between painted skin and painted skull-cap. Each pore and wrinkle is visible and each reflects the blue hue in its own way.
      They are a simple pair, exhibiting an innocent curiosity as they encounter everyday objects and people, including audience members. They are experimenters with life’s substance and situations. Their naivety produces hilarious results. They explore with their eyes sometimes daring to touch; they touch objects with sticks only to discover magical textures and wonderful sounds. In one scene, the Blue Man taps a section of plastic sewer pipe with a drum stick, cautiously at first like a puppy first encountering a turtle. As he becomes more comfortable with the sound he adds a second drumstick and eventually develops complex rhythm. Soon the other Blue Man discovers that he can length and shorten the chamber inside the pipe by sliding a slightly smaller pipe inside the original. As one Blue Man slides the two pipes to make the chamber longer and shorter, pitch and melody are created using the drumsticks. With amplification and a little background music provided by florescent musicians floating high above the stage, a serious production number evolves entertaining and evoking wild applause from the audience.
      Some of the hallmarks of an outstanding stage performance are often creative lighting and special effects. The Blue Man Group does not disappoint. The audience’s senses are challenged in unexpected ways by light, sound and paper. Yes, paper! The unexpected and unprecedented use of paper both ignites and fascinates onlookers making the audience part of the show. Lest there be a tree-hugger in the audience, the show’s producers hasten to point out that all paper used during the production is recycled, and that no trees were harmed to create this show.
      A very entertaining and enjoyable evening, The Blue Man Group is one of literally dozens of quality stage shows available in Las Vegas. At a recent conference I heard the President of the Las Vegas Tourism Board boast that, “Las Vegas has more shows than all of Broadway and Off-Broadway combined.” I haven’t counted so I don’t know the accuracy of his statement, but I do know that every night in Las Vegas thousands of theatre seats are filled with tourists and visitors to witness some of the best entertainment in the world.
      To reach the Blue Man Group theatre, one passes through the magnificent lobby of the Venetian, and along the Grand Canal shopping arcade. Whether choosing to see the show or not, and whether or not a shopper, one must plan a visit the Grand Canal area where gondoliers propel their vessels under arched bridges and street musicians entertain in the market square; and where the sky is always bright and beautiful. If for no other reason, it is worth a stroll into the Venetian to see the sky above the Grand Canal Shoppes. I was so taken by the artwork on the huge domed ceiling, that I just stood and stared upward (like a tourist) trying to convince myself that I was not outdoors under a beautiful, blue, Venice sky with white puffy clouds. After wandering throughout the Grand Canal footpaths for a while, the sky mural still made it difficult for me to believe I was inside a building.
      Every major hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has a magnificent lobby; a themed shopping area; multiple eateries; at least one production theatre; some type of free open-to-the-public display or presentation; and of course acres of casino space. All of the Strip hotels are within walking distance of one another, but public busses, taxi, and a monorail are also available.
      Be sure to include a couple of shows with your next Vegas visit. Shows can be booked for you by the concierge of just about any hotel after you arrive; many can be booked online; and, of course most travel planners offer the service of pre-booking theatre seats. And remember – “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas!”
      May All of Your Travels Be Happy and Safe!