The stuff of dreams or nightmares? Either way, the Blue Man Group are impossible to overlook. The three baldheaded men drenched head-to-toe in bright blue paint have been putting on musical, comedic and theatrical stage shows since 1991, thrilling audiences of all ages. From April 11-15, they’ll bring their act to Dubai Opera, and from April 18-22, to du Forum in Yas Island.
Nearly three decades ago, Blue Man Group began as a simple concept: a goodbye to the 1980s. Three friends — Phil Stanton, Chris Wink and Matt Goldman — led a procession through Central Park in New York City with their faces painted blue, and burnt a coffin’s worth of ‘80s artefacts as a ‘funeral’ for the era. This caught the attention of an MTV producer, and marked the beginning of getting BMG’s brand of weird (wordless, slapstick humour with an underlying humanity) to an international market.
Ahead of their UAE run, co-founder Stanton told tabloid! what audiences can expect from their show today, and just how long it takes to get out of all that make-up.
Can you tell us a little about the format of the show you’re bringing to the UAE?
There really isn’t a traditional format for the show. There is a story, but since the Blue Man characters don’t speak, the story is told more intuitively. You can expect to hear live music — sometimes tribal beats, sometimes beautiful and ethereal. You will see some visually stunning effects, all designed to help the Blue Men express emotion and elation. And hopefully you will laugh — the Blue Men sometimes show us a new perspective about ourselves and our culture in a humorous way.
Can members of the audience expect to be brought up on stage at any point?
At various points during a Blue Man Group show, the Blue Men often invite a few audience members to join them on stage. They are very gracious and careful to select only those who are willing. They never insist anyone join them if they prefer not to.
Of course, in Dubai the shows will take place at the new opera house. Does the venue impact the atmosphere in any way?
The venue, the crowd, the size of the room, all of it affects the performance. The Blue Men truly respond to the energy the crowd brings into the room, so every night is slightly different.
What’s the most bizarre crowd you’ve ever performed to?
I think the most difficult crowd can be people in suits, all in the mindset of business meetings and corporate conferences. It takes more time to coax them into giving up their social masks and just allow the joyfulness.
What’s the secret to the longevity of the Blue Man Group?
Wow. I wish I knew. My best guess is that there is a palpable amount of humanity in the Blue Man character. This outsider from another world helps us see ourselves and our world more clearly, and with more playful understanding.
Who gets the most out of a Blue Man Group show — kids or adults?
I always get a kick out of how quickly kids relate to the Blue Man character. They just simply get it. They are always in the mindset for curiosity and joy. But even better is watching the adults. The adults come in with a little wall up. It’s the mask we have learnt to wear socially. But over time, the wall starts to come down, and the adults seem to reconnect with their own childlike joy and exuberance. They begin to remember what it feels like to remove the mask, and allow themselves to truly connect with others. That is the best thing to see. I often say that the show is perfect for kids, but adults need it more.
What’s your personal favourite part of the show you’re bringing to Dubai, and why?
My favourite thing about the show is always the Blue Man character. I love seeing how people of all cultures and backgrounds respond to this innocent, curious being. He seems to convey some of the very best parts of humanity — openness, generosity, curiosity, creativity.
How long does it take to get ready for the show, and what does it entail? How long does it take to get out of costume?
We think of the prep time — about an hour — as a ritual that each actor goes through in order to let go of the events of the day, the trappings of normal life, and get into the mind set of the Blue Man. After the show, we can get out of costume in half the time.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about Blue Man Group shows?
I don’t know! I think people don’t know what to expect when they come to the show. I think [they should] just come with an open mind and be ready to be entertained.
How much has the show changed over the years? And how much has it stayed the same?
We are almost always changing or updating something within the show — sometimes it is small things like lighting or sound or a piece of music. Sometimes it is big segments of new content. One thing that has never changed is the intention of the Blue Men. Every show is a journey to try to bring people together for a joyful celebration of human connection.
Don’t miss it
Blue Man Group will perform at Dubai Opera between April 11-15 and du Forum, Yas Island between April 18-22. Tickets, starting at Dh195, are available online.