This morning Universal Orlando previewed the new Blue Man Group show for a select group of fans and media at the Sharp-Aquos Theatre, just outside Universal Studios Florida. The updated show officially debuts to the public on Feb. 24, 2012, featuring a mixture of familiar routines from the past four or so years it’s been there along with entirely new elements. Though the full Blue Man Group show is 90 minutes long, today’s preview performance was just 45 minutes, showing off only the new and updated material and surprises.
The overall theme of the updated Blue Man Group show is to engage audiences away from technological vices. That is, the Blue Men satire the notion that society is spending increasingly longer amounts of time texting, e-mailing, and otherwise communicating via impersonal methods, rather than enjoying real-life face time (and not Apple’s FaceTime).
Blue Man Group co-founder Phil Stanton said one of the goals of the show is to “express that it matters that you’re together – that live theater matters,” as opposed to being buried nose-deep on an iPhone screen.
Updated Show Highlights
The new/updated Blue Man Group show is indeed a visceral, real-life experience, drawing the audience into a world filled with exciting dance music, colorful characters, and plenty of comedy, both slapstick and satirical. The video below offers an overview of the elements that were shown off in this morning’s preview.
Video: Overview and highlights of the new/updated Blue Man Group
New sections include Blue Men interacting with “GiPads,” or gigantic iPads, which offer a variation on classic Blue Man gags as well as entirely new bits. After flipping through some amusing e-Books, the trio of Blue Men launch slot machine apps on each of three huge GiPads and hit the Captain Crunch jackpot resulting in a humorously unique musical performance – though one that may go on for a bit too long.
Video: Blue Man Group interacts with GiPads in updated show at Universal Orlando
From there, each of the GiPads feature a different reality-bending app, seamlessly blending the real-life Blue Men with virtual counterparts as they pass in front of and behind the giant screens, completed by a bit of dress-up, from cross-gender to Flavor Flav.
Drumming, Live Music, and Lady Gaga
At the core of any Blue Man Group act, whether it’s in Orlando or one of the many other incarnations worldwide, is drumming. Iconic twisted PVC piping becomes an elaborate drum kit onto which the Blue Men beat out familiar melodies.
The updated show not only includes a classic “Freebird” moment but also introduces a bit of “Bad Romance” from Lady Gaga – one of the funnier new elements.
Video: Blue Man Group does Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” at Universal Orlando
In addition to the Blue Men drumming on their pipes, a full live band backs them up on stage (technically, above the stage, cages mounted behind them). The drums, guitars, and other instruments add a fullness to the Blue Man sound.
The Real World
The distinction between real life and a virtual or online one continues to be made as the Blue Men transform into two-dimensional texting figures, rapidly typing back and forth to each other on stage, wondering what all the “3D” people (the audience) are doing in their “2D” world, ultimately coming to the conclusion that the two worlds need to unite, accomplished in a mesmerizing “2.5D” sequence.
Video: Blue Man Group combines 2D with 3D worlds in technological satire
Blue Man Group does involve audience interaction, today pulling one woman from the audience to secure a “leaking” tube while the Blue Men run off to ride Universal’s nearby Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. Another audience member was also suited up by the Blue Men, taken backstage, and painted blue from head-to-toe, leaving the stage with the unique artwork created by using him as a human paint brush.
Fans of the Blue Man Group show that’s been at Universal Orlando for several years needn’t worry about losing any of their favorite elements. Returning pieces, not performed today, include “Paint Drumming” and “Gum Balls/Marshmallows.” And Stanton confirms, “Yes, the first few rows will still need to wear ponchos.”
It’s the show’s updated finale that literally gets the crowd moving, with a similar dance party that invites audience members to get up out of their seats and shake their rear ends along with a song that offers more amusing names for a person’s behind than I even knew existed, from the mundane “buttocks” to the inane “Jar Jar Binks” and plenty in-between.
And this familiar finale has also been updated, replacing much of the toilet papering of the crowd with a chance to bounce around giant colorfully-illuminated air balloons that surprisingly drop from the theater’s ceiling. They’re at least 10 feet in diameter but gracefully float through the air while changing colors to the beat of the thumping music. Stanton calls it a “euphoric shared experience,” driving home the notion of real life being more enjoyable than anything technology can deliver on its own.
Video: Air balloon finale of the updated Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando
Blue Man Group is currently previewing these new elements with each of its shows at Universal Orlando on their recently rebuilt stage, all leading up to the Feb. 24 official debut. All of the elements described/shown above and previewed today plus an additional 45 minutes of entertainment are included with a ticket to see the show. Starting at $70 per head for adults, it’s a pricey show but entirely unique, completely unlike anything else found in Orlando, in a theme park or otherwise.
More photos from the updated Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando: