Blue Man Group is a creative organization founded by Phil Stanton, Chris Wink and Matt Goldman. The organization produces theatrical shows and concerts featuring music, comedy and multimedia; recorded music and scores for film and television; television appearances for shows such as The Tonight Show, Las Vegas, Scrubs, FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, and Arrested Development; and a children's museum exhibit ("Making Waves"). All of the organization's appearances star a trio of performers called Blue Men, who appear to have blue skin and no hair or ears.
The organization's visual productions are centered on a trio of anonymous mute performers, called Blue Men, who appear in black clothing and blue grease paint over latex bald caps and play a mixture of idiosyncratic, often percussive, instruments. Blue Men are performers of either gender who meet specific physical requirements (athletic build, height between 5'10"-6'1"/1.78-1.85 m), specific performing talents (percussion, acting, non-verbal communication), and certain personality traits (openness, charisma, willingness to collaborate), among other qualifications.
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The Blue Man can be considered a type of homologue, a creature approximating a real male human being. The strongest and most obvious Blue Man characteristic is his static appearance, namely, the ear-less, bright blue head and face, and nondescript, utilitarian clothing. In action, the Blue Man does not speak and his face is usually expressionless, although suggestions of curiosity, surprise, wonder, chagrin, etc. are sometimes visible. The Blue Man does not communicate through speech or broad body language or gestures; rather, he communicates through intense eye contact and simple gestures. He acts impulsively and primarily as a group of three, "checking in" with the other two when making decisions and before moving to their next action. The Blue Man's outwardly apparent motivations are often presented in mild caricature in order to make a humorous and/or ironic point to the audience. Additionally, the Blue Man is inscrutably motivated to drum. They even have their own hand gesture, called the "Blue Man Salute", which is made by raising both arms in the air. These characteristics provide a character free of stereotypes or race and allow all members of the audience to identify with them equally.
Astor Place Theatre with marquee for the group
Meryl Vladimer, the Artistic Director of The CLUB, saw their work as part of a variety show hosted by the Alien Comic (Tom Murrin) and commissioned Blue Man Group to create a full-length show. The resulting piece, Tubes, took off after Vladimer persuaded New York Times theater critic Stephen Holden to review it. Blue Man Group's popularity continued to snowball, resulting in a performance at Lincoln Center titled "Serious Fun", and eventually an Obie Award and a Lucille Lortel Award, which led producers to take the show to off-Broadway. Tubes opened in 1991 at the Astor Place Theater in New York City.
Blue Man Group won a special citation in the 1990-1991 Village Voice Obie Awards, and a special award in the 1992 Lucille Lortel Awards, which are for excellence in off Broadway theatre.
Early in the history of the group, the members would speak with audiences after the show while still in makeup, answering questions, signing autographs, and talking about the show. Eventually, however, it was decided that cast members would stay in character at all times while in makeup, meaning after shows they would still not speak to audience members, and the only "autograph" they would sign would be a smudge of blue paint. When shown a "new" piece of technology, such as a cell phone or even an old pair of binoculars, they will simply stare at it in wonder.
Current theatrical productions
"Tubes/Rewired" in New York at the Astor Place Theatre (1991 ??? present)
"Tubes/Rewired" in Boston at the Charles Playhouse (1995 ??? present)
"Tubes/Rewired" in Chicago at the Briar Street Theater (1997 ??? present)
"Bluephoria/Live at The Venetian ??? Las Vegas" in Las Vegas at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino (October 10, 2005 ??? present)
Orlando at the Sharp Aquos Theatre at Universal Orlando Resort (June 6, 2007 ??? present)
Berlin at the Bluemax Theater (February 1, 2006 ??? present)
Tokyo, Japan at the Invoice Theatre (December 1, 2007 ??? present)
Previous theatrical productions
"Live at Luxor" in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel and Casino (March 10, 2000 ??? September 15, 2005)
Berlin at the Theater am Potsdamer Platz (May 9, 2004 ??? January 31, 2006)
Oberhausen at the Metronom Theatre (March 11, 2007 ??? October 3, 2008)
Stuttgart, Germany at the Apollo Theater (February 28, 2008 ??? October 12, 2008)
Toronto at the Panasonic Theatre (June 20, 2005 ??? January 7, 2007)
London at the New London Theatre (November 2005 ??? June 24, 2007)
Amsterdam at the Theater Fabriek (December 2006 ??? September 30, 2007)
Basel, Switzerland at Musical Theater Basel (October 25, 2008 ??? January 11, 2009)
International Blue Man Theatrical Tour
Blue Man Group is in the midst of an International Blue Man Theatrical Tour which started in Stuttgart, proceeded to Basel, Switzerland, and will eventually go to Spain, France, and Austria for approximately four to six month runs in each location. Unlike The Complex Rock Tour and the How to Be a Megastar tours, the International Blue Man Theatrical Tour will actually showcase the theatrical show currently performed in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.
Z??rich, Switzerland at Theater 11 (opening January 17, 2010)
Beginning in November 12, 2009, Blue Man Group will welcome special honorary guest performers including Lucas and Jackson Dell'Abate, Benjy Bronk, John Hein, and Scott DePace. These performances will run for one week at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. 5% of ticket revenue will be donated to the North Shore Animal League, a non-profit animal rescue based on Long Island, New York.
Music and tours
In 1999, the group released their first audio recording, appropriately titled Audio. Although it contained some of the music from their stage productions, it was less of a soundtrack and more a collection of full-length instrumentals that featured new instruments.
In 2002, the group participated in Moby's Area2 tour, giving a more rock-oriented performance than in the theatrical shows. Songs developed during this tour appeared on 2003's album The Complex.
Unlike Audio, The Complex featured a variety of vocalists and guests including Tracy Bonham, Dave Matthews, Gavin Rossdale and Venus Hum. The record spawned its own 2003 tour, the first headlined by Blue Man Group. The tour deconstructed the traditional rock concert experience into its often clich?©d parts and was chronicled in a 2004 DVD release. The tour featured Tracy Bonham and Venus Hum as supporting acts. The DVD included a surround sound mix of some of the studio recordings.
Blue Man Group launched its second tour, The "How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0", on , 2006. The tour added some new material to material from the original Complex Rock Tour, and had Tracy Bonham as an opening act and vocalist. DJ/VJ Mike Relm was the opening act for the second leg of this tour, which ended , 2007 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. This third leg of the tour began in May 2007 and included performances in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Santiago, Chile. The fourth leg, using "2.1" in its title, included more U.S. and Canada dates. Following that, the Megastar World Tour visited France, Korea, Canada, Germany, and a few other European countries throughout 2008.
The "How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0" visited Taipei, Taiwan from August 19 to 23 as part of a promotional campaign for the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei, most of the show's dialogue displayed with subtitle. As Typhoon Morakot hit the island and caused serious damage in mid August, the group agreed to perform one extra show with the proceeds being donated to the victims of the flood.
There are a number of different themes found in various Blue Man performances. These themes include:
Science and technology, especially the topics of plumbing, fractals, human sight, DNA, and the Internet.
Information overload and information pollution, such as when the audience is asked to choose one of three simultaneous streams of information to read.
Innocence, as when the Blue Men appear to be surprised and perplexed by common artifacts of modern society or by audience reactions.
Self-conscious and na??ve imitation of cultural norms, such as attempting to stage an elegant dinner for an audience member with Twinkies; or following the Rock Concert Instruction Manual (see below) with the expectation that following a series of instructions is all it takes to put on a rock concert.
The Outsider. Blue Men always appear as a group of three. This is because not only are Blue Men viewed as outsiders to the rest of the world, but three is the smallest group possible wherein there can be a subgroup of more than one as well as a subgroup of one, the outsider. Many of the Blue Man skits involve one of the three Blue Men performing in a manner inconsistent with the other two.
Rooftops, or otherwise climbing to the top. There are a number of references, both in visual pieces and in lyrics from the COMPLEX tour, that have a common theme of getting to the roof. This theme is a metaphor for the advice Stanton, Wink, and Goldman drew from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers's PBS program The Power of Myth and represents "Following your bliss."
The Rock Concert Instruction Manual
The Rock Concert Instruction Manual, used by Blue Man Group in The Complex Rock Tour and the How to Be a MegaStar Tours 2.0 and 2.1, is a satire of the conventions of rock music. The manual describes in simple steps how one can gain fame and fortune by becoming a rock star. Parts of the manual are also used in Blue Man Group's theatrical shows.
Origins and attributes
The Rock Concert Instruction Manual is bought at the beginning of the How to Be a MegaStar show from a fake infomercial, using an audience member's credit card. (In compensation, the audience member later receives a marshmallow sculpture that was in one Blue Man's mouth). The Manual is narrated by a monotone male's voice (Todd Perlmutter) who directs their actions step-by-step, from creating their persona to ending the show.
Appearances and other work
When Blue Man Group was still solely in New York, they ran a variety of fake advertisements in The Village Voice.
The group did a commercial for the soft drink Mirinda, where the trio is orange, instead of blue.
The group achieved widespread visibility when they appeared in an Intel advertising campaign for Pentium III and Pentium 4 CPUs as well as Centrino technology.
In June 2006, Swatch launched a new range of colored watches with BMG as the faces of the advertising campaign. A limited edition Blue Man Group watch was also released, featuring all three men throwing paint to each other on the strap.
BMG appeared in local TV ads for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team broadcasts.
In 2005, the group collaborated with artist David LaChapelle and produced several new images for upcoming ad campaigns, including their show "bluephoria" at The Venetian in Las Vegas. These images are radically different from any of the group's previous advertising and can be seen on the official webpage.
The group is featured in a major advertising campaign in Brazil for Telecom Italia Mobile.
TV guest appearances
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Since 2004, Blue Man Group has appeared repeatedly on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (imdb.com 1997/11/13, 2003/08/08, 2003/09/22, 2005/10/06 and 2007/10/09) and Live with Regis and Kelly.
Blue Man Group frequently gave out clues on the PBS kids' game show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in the early 1990s.
Starting in the second season of Arrested Development, a running subplot was that of Tobias F??nke (David Cross) attempting to join the group with little to no luck. The group themselves were featured at least three times.
Blue Man Group appears in The Drew Carey Show episode "Drew Live III" in 2001.
Blue Man Group appears in the music video for "Everyday" by Dave Matthews Band, hugging the main character of the video and leaving blue handprints on his back.
In 2004, Blue Man Group made an appearance in the show Las Vegas in the episode "Blood and Sand" (original airdate January 5, 2004). In the episode, they play themselves "trashing" the hotel managed by Ed Deline (James Caan), and shooting money from PVC pipes in the lobby.
In Autumn 2005, the group appeared on the children's BBC program, Blue Peter, to promote their London production.
Blue Man Group appeared on the finale of America's Got Talent, where they performed a cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" with Tracy Bonham, from their Complex Rock Tour show.
Blue Man Group made an appearance at the launch party of the new CW network in September 2006.
Blue Man Group and their Las Vegas show were featured in the sixth (2006) season premiere episode of Scrubs on NBC titled "My Mirror Image".
Blue Man Group appeared in an episode of FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, a children's game show on PBS Kids Go. The episode was "Ruff's Case of Blues in the Brain".
Emily Yeung took part in a brief performance with Blue Man Group on the children's program This is Emily Yeung.
In November 2007, Blue Man Group appeared in an episode of Space Pirates, a children's BBC program.
In April 2008, Blue Man Group appeared in the Comedy Central special Night of Too Many Stars. Actor Kevin James joined the trio as a parody, bringing out Jerry Stiller, his former co-star on The King of Queens.
On October 2, 2008, Blue Man Group performed on an episode of Dr. Phil that discussed various ways to help reduce stress.
In April 2009, Blue Man Group appeared in an episode of long-running soap opera Guiding Light set in Orlando.
In October 2009, Blue Man Group appeared on Discovery Channel's Time Warp.
Concert guest appearances
At the Grammy Awards in 2001, Moby collaborated with Blue Man Group and Jill Scott to perform his song "Natural Blues."
In December 2005, Blue Man Group appeared at the Royal Variety Performance in Cardiff, where they performed "I Feel Love" with Katherine Jenkins on vocals. They also created a piece of Yves Klein-inspired art by daubing comedian Joe Pasquale in paint, attaching him to a pulley, and swinging him against a large canvas. Finally, Blue Man Group performed their popular "spin art/marshmallows" skit.
Blue Man Group performed the American and Canadian national anthems at the home opener of the Toronto Blue Jays against the Minnesota Twins in April 2006.
Blue Man Group had a guest performance at Ti?ęsto's "Elements of Life" show where they performed "No More Heroes" on June 2, 2007 in the Gelredome in Arnhem, Holland. They also joined him at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City to kick off the United States leg of his "Elements of Life" tour on July 19 and July 20, 2007, where they performed the same song. The song was released on Ti?ęsto's 2008 release, Elements of Life: Remixed.
On , 2007, Blue Man Group performed "PVC IV" with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Keith Lockhart conducting, during the Pops' annual Fourth of July celebration at the Hatch Shell.
On , 2007, Ricky Martin opened the Las Vegas-themed 2007 Latin Grammy Awards show with the help of Blue Man Group. They performed a medley of Ricky Martin's "Lola, Lola" and "La Bamba".
On , 2007, Blue Man Group and Kumi Koda performed "I Feel Love" for her Black Cherry Tour in the Tokyo Dome, Japan.
On July 4, 2008, Blue Man Group performed at the Stadium of Fire event at the LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
On January 2, 2009 Blue Man Group made a guest appearance at the "I've in BUDOKAN 2009 - Departed to the Future" concert at Tokyo's Budokan, performing "Hydian Way" with Love Planet Five.
"The Current" was featured on the soundtrack for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Blue Man Group played various percussion instruments on the score of the 2005 animated film Robots.
The group contributed music to the 2008 animated film Space Chimps.
Blue Man Group appears in an informational video played continuously at security checkpoints in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2004, the piece "Piano Smasher" was used in the soundtrack for the video game R-Type Final.
Blue Man Group have licensed two different musical instruments for kids, manufactured by Toy Quest, based on existing Blue Man creations: "Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes" and "Blue Man Group Keyboard Experience".
In 2007, Goldman and Wink (both fathers) founded an alternative children's school, The Blue Man Creativity Center.
Blue Man Group is mentioned in the Angel episode "The House Always Wins".
In an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Jeff Goldblum parodies Blue Man Group with a similar group titled the "Jeff GoldBluMan Group".
Blue Man Group was parodied on an episode of Family Guy. In a cut-scene, Peter recalls the time when he saw the Jew Man Group, a group of four Rabbis in blue paint (three rabbis were dancing to Klezmer music while holding up a chair with the fourth sitting on it).
Blue Man Group was also parodied on the The Simpsons, where Bart threw a ball into one's members mouth in a church. Also they appear in a couch gag in episode "The Old Man and the Key". In the 12th season episode Trilogy of Error Homer describes the Blue Man Group as "a total rip off of The Smurfs". Also, in "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", Homer - on the verge of being arrested - desperately babbles "Don't tell my kids I'm going to jail. Tell them I joined the Blue Man Group. I'm the fat one!"
In 2008, Blue Man Group performed a special concert, organized by ABC's Oprah's Big Give, for a Chicago inner city school. Also at the show, they gave two $50,000 checks to help the school's athletic facilities and music department.
In 2008, Blue Man Group performed at the 2008 FIRST Robotics Boston Regional Competition.
On October 3, 2009 the Blue Man Group performed during the New York Rangers home opening ceremony at Madison Square Garden, sporting New York Rangers paraphenalia.
In September 2008, Variety reported that the original trio (Matt Goldman, Chris Wink and Phil Stanton) would star in a Blue Man Group IMAX 3D feature film, to be produced by Charlotte Huggins. The film, titled Blue Man Group: Mind Blast, will be directed by David Russo, and will be released by National Geographic Entertainment.
None of the people who work for Blue Man Group are members of a union. There have been labor actions in Toronto and Las Vegas. In March 2007 the AFL-CIO placed Blue Man Group on its "Don't Buy List" for union members and their families.
Announcing their debut in Toronto, Ontario in 2005, Blue Man Group attracted considerable opposition for opting not to use unionized workers for their show, which many labor groups regarded as being highly unusual for a show of its size in Canada. Their , 2005 premiere in Toronto was picketed by members of the Canadian Actors' Equity Association, the Toronto Musicians' Association, and two locals of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The Ontario Teacher's Union also joined in the boycott, which essentially eliminated any business from school trips and student matinees. The show closed after 18 months, staging its final show on January 7, 2007. The Toronto Star reported that the closing was due primarily to the show's union difficulties and to the lack of novelty of the show itself.
In September 2005, Blue Man Group moved from Luxor, where they had a union contract, to The Venetian, electing not to keep the contract. Stagehands who went from the Luxor venue to the Venetian started an organizing campaign with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes in Las Vegas, leading to a vote in May 2006. Before the vote, Matt Goldman, a co-founder of Blue Man Group, pledged to honor the results "in accordance with the great democratic traditions of our country."
In the May 2006 election, the stagehands voted to be represented by IATSE Local 720. In June the National Labor Relations Board certified the results. The winning election permitted the employees to start bargaining a contract with Blue Man Productions. After the election, Blue Man Group refused to go to negotiate, arguing that the election was not valid because it did not include a half-dozen musical technicians.
In June, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB sided with the union. The company filed a challenge, sending the case to full hearings before the Board in Washington DC. In September 2006 the NLRB rejected the challenge, ordering bargaining to begin.
In September 2006, Blue Man Group sued to have the NLRB ruling overturned. In October, the NLRB filed a petition for enforcement of its order. (D.C. Cir. Nos. 06-1328 & 06-1341 NLRB v. Blue Man Vegas, LLC Board Case Nos. 28-CA-20868 and 28-RC-6440).
On June 10, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the NLRB.
The union has also filed charges of federal unfair labor practices with the NLRB Las Vegas office, contending that Blue Man Group illegally changed the show's work rules and fired a key union supporter.