Visually stunning Blue Man Group
what Vegas needs
From The Las Vegas Review Journal
obvious from any TV commercial or print ad: "Blue Man Group:
Live at Luxor"
isn't for everyone. The surprise -- if you can call it that
-- is that it's for more people than it might seem. Certainly,
there were clues that the Blue Man Group isn't as avant-garde
or off-putting as the trademark skullcaps and cobalt-blue greasepaint
of its three silent stars would suggest. Weird for weird's sake
might play for a few months in the East Village.
the West, we've heard of stranger ways for city folks back East
to make money than to splatter paint on stuff or chomp Cap'n
Crunch into a microphone. But to play New York for 12 years
running, there's got to be something universal and populist
at work. If the Blue Man show didn't make any sense at all --
or if it wasn't so darn funny -- it wouldn't be a long-running
enterprise in three cities. And the troupe wouldn't have been
invited to town by Mandalay Resort Group, which used to have
a pretty uptight corporate image. After all, the Luxor's 1,200-capacity
showroom previously hosted a show called "Imagine,"
Man Group does, and as a result, you'll never look at PVC pipe
in quite the same way. That it's a hard show to describe says
a lot in itself. Like Cirque du Soleil before it, the Blue Man
Group focuses its music and visuals into a unique point of view
that supplants any single element. That unified vision combines
contradictory elements in a fast hour and a half. There's highbrow
humor and schoolyard play-with-your-food tricks. Old-fashioned
sleight-of-hand, and genuine efforts to explain science and
nature. Think of the Blue Man Group as three people who understand
technology better than most of us, but who prefer humanity.
They could have been engineers or software designers, but chose
to create their own low-tech playground instead.
two-week soft opening period, the show's founders -- Chris Wink,
Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman -- put the greasepaint back on
for a March 14 "world premiere" in front of an invited
audience that included fellow mischief-makers Penn & Teller
and writer-performance artist Spalding Gray. (A rotating repertoire
of Blue Men will perform most future shows.) A moody overture
from the seven-piece band, working on upper levels left and
right of the stage, begins a hammering barrage of percussion
that continues for much of the show, accented by angular spaghetti
Western guitar. Emerging from behind a screen where they've
been "animated" in silhouette by hand-held strobes,
the three curious, slightly robotic Blue Men perform a first-half
of "greatest hits" segments from humbler days in smaller
venues. This includes squirting fluorescent paint into drum
heads, the microphone-enhanced Cap'n Crunch-ing, and some stuntwork
in which you find out how many little cream cheese balls a Blue
Man can catch and hold in his mouth. Without giving away the
punchlines, there's a running satire on abstract art as well.
Insights into modern plumbing, information-age overload and
an audience member's mouth lead to more basic comedy when an
audience "volunteer" is dragged to the stage to share
Twinkies with the trio.
half reveals the bigger, more expensive toys the Blue Men built
to fill the 50-foot stage. They use foam-rubber paddles to play
their PVC version of a vibraphone -- the notes determined by
the length of each pipe segment -- before the stage reveals
a two-story "drum wall" with seven percussion stations.
Two stunning set pieces follow: A wall of neon that makes a
two-dimensional cartoon vista come to life, and an amazing display
of how our eyes are tricked into the process of animation every
time we watch a film. Two turntables (zoetropes, to be exact)
on each side of the stage spin faster and faster until a circle
of statues begin a tribal dance. By the time the crowd sang
"White Rabbit" and participated in a finale that brings
back high school memories of papering the popular girl's yard,
the opening night audience had bonded into a tribe of its own.
The question is, can it happen every night? Not everyone is
going to be enamored of the aggressive, persistently percussive
music. And then there's the size of the theater. Despite a sincere
effort to take the action to the back rows, the low-budget segments
from the early days don't carry all the way to the cheap seats.
And "cheap" means $55 for the back of the room and
$65 for the front, which is $10 more than tickets for the cozier
New York production. The Blue Men will learn whether Las Vegas
audiences still expect more production value for that price
than the stark lighting and minimalist, black warehouse vibe
they offer. But the Blue Men are here to challenge old notions
of Las Vegas entertainment. And after decades of revues that
were spliced together from other sources, assembled by committee
or updated piecemeal over the years, an inspired imagination
may just prove to be the real commodity after all. "The
Blue Man Group: Live at Luxor"
is presented at 7 and 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and
at 7 p.m. Sundays and Mondays in the Luxor Theater at the Luxor,
3900 Las Vegas Blvd. So. Tickets are $55 and $65. Grade: A
finally gets highway ramp in A.C.
The Press of Atlantic City
CITY - The Trump Ramp?
see, there's the Trump
Taj Mahal Casino Resort, the Trump
Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Trump
Marina Hotel Casino. Could a highway ramp be the next
Atlantic City landmark to carry the glitzy Trump marque?Probably
not. Still, it was built for Trump.Nearly four months
late, the $12 million project finally opened Thursday
night without any fanfare. The structure is essentially
an elevated U-turn that loops over Huron Avenue to take
traffic from the Borgata
Hotel Casino & Spa to the Trump
Marina."It's four months late, but it's a positive,"
Trump said Friday in a less-than-glowing critique.At one
point, it appeared the ramp's opening would be delayed
until the end of the year, but the lead contractor beefed
up the workforce recently in a final push to get it completed.
built it as fast as we could get it done," said Kathleen
C. Aufschneider, chief engineer of the South Jersey Transportation
Authority, the state agency that supervised the project.The
ramp was promised to Trump in exchange for dropping his
protracted legal battle two years ago against another
highway project, the $330 million Atlantic City Expressway
Connector, the tunnel and roadway system serving the Marina
District.Trump fought the connector, arguing that it was
little more than a "private driveway" to rival
Steve Wynn's proposed casino across the street from Trump
Marina.Wynn's casino was never built, but the connector
was a crucial part of the billion-dollar Borgata. Trump
thought the connector route did not provide enough access
between the Borgata and his Marina casino, so he demanded
the ramp's construction to create a link between the two
properties.The South Jersey Transportation Authority,
which operates the Atlantic City Expressway, agreed to
build the ramp in return for Trump dropping his lawsuits
against the connector project. In their settlement, the
authority and Trump agreed to split the ramp's cost 50-50.
the ramp was supposed to be completed in time for the
Borgata's grand opening in early July, but construction
was delayed by unusually rainy weather and soggy soil.The
delays prompted Trump to threaten the authority with legal
claims for his alleged financial losses. He said the delays
Marina from capitalizing on the extra business generated
by the Borgata's opening during the summer tourist season."People
could go over there and they couldn't get back,"
Trump said of the lack of access between the Borgata
and Trump Marina. "It had a very big impact. We were
really hurt because this ramp was not completed as per
the contract."The final numbers aren't in, but Trump
said he is preparing to submit a "big damage claim"
with the transportation authority to reflect his losses."It
was supposed to be done. It could easily have been done,
and they failed to live up to their obligation,"
he said.Aufschneider said the authority hasn't received
any formal claims yet from Trump, but she noted that she
has had discussions with his local representatives. Talks
are also being held with the ramp's lead contractor, Agate
Construction Co. Inc. of Dennis Township, to resolve claims
that it has submitted to the authority."In the end,
there are trade-offs," Aufschneider said. "We're
trying to work it all out."