Blue Man Group

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Blue Man Group
BlueManGroup Dec2007.jpg
Blue Man Group playing the Drumbone in concert, December 2007
Formation1987
TypeTheatre group
Purpose/focusAvant-garde, performance art
Websitehttp://www.blueman.com/
 
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Blue Man Group
BlueManGroup Dec2007.jpg
Blue Man Group playing the Drumbone in concert, December 2007
Formation1987
TypeTheatre group
Purpose/focusAvant-garde, performance art
Websitehttp://www.blueman.com/

Blue Man Group is an organization founded in 1987 by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. The organization produces theatrical shows and concerts featuring experimental music (with an emphasis on percussion), comedy and multimedia; recorded music and scores for film and television; numerous television appearances, and a children's museum exhibit ("Making Waves"). All of the organization's theatrical performances star a trio of humanoid characters called Blue Men, played by actor-musicians who wear bald caps and uniform blue makeup.

History[edit]

Wink and Goldman became friends when they bonded as the "new kids" in a Manhattan, Kansas junior high school. In college, however, the two went separate ways: Wink to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Goldman to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. After college in 1984, Wink and Goldman reunited in NYC and later, in 1986, met Stanton, a recent transfer from Savannah, Georgia. Formed in 1987 as a salute to the 80s by Goldman, Stanton, and Wink, The Blue Man Group played around Manhattan in such venues as Central Park, the Performing Garage, Dixon Place and PS 122.[1][2]

Astor Place Theatre with marquee for the group

Meryl Vladimer, the artistic director of The Club @ La MaMa, 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.[3][4] In 1996, the group hired inventor/musician Jimmy Cook to design and build experimental musical instruments for new shows in Boston and Chicago as well as appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Cook was a member of the group until 1999.

Blue Man Group won a special citation in the 1990–1991 Village Voice Obie Awards,[5] and a special award in the 1992 Lucille Lortel Awards, which are for excellence in off-Broadway theatre.[6]

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.[citation needed] 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" 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.

Theatrical productions[edit]

Current theatrical productions[edit]

United States
Germany
Norwegian Cruise Line

Australia

Previous theatrical productions[edit]

United States
Germany
Canada
United Kingdom
Netherlands
Japan
Switzerland
Sweden
Austria

European tour[edit]

International Blue Man Theatrical Tour

Blue Man Group is in the midst of an International Blue Man Theatrical Tour. This tour started in Stuttgart, proceeded to Basel, Zürich, and Vienna, and will eventually go to Spain, France, and the Netherlands for approximately two to six-month runs in each location.

Music and tours[edit]

In 1999, the group released their first audio recording, 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 clichéd 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 September 26, 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 April 22, 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 Summer 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.

In 2008, the group collaborated on the track "No More Heroes" with the Dutch DJ and producer Tiësto for the remixed version of the Elements of Life album.

Announced in 2009, Blue Man Group began performing for the first time at sea on Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, the Norwegian Epic. The Epic began alternating 7-Day Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Miami with Blue Man Group shows nightly in July 2010.

In 2013 a tour to South Africa was announced, marking the first performances on the African continent. Dates are yet to be confirmed, although it seems as if the shows will be in July.[citation needed]

Themes[edit]

There are a number of different themes found in various Blue Man performances. These themes include:[13]

Feature film[edit]

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.[14] The film, titled Blue Man Group: Mind Blast, was to be directed by David Russo and released by National Geographic Entertainment.[15] The group's website confirmed that the film would arrive in theaters in 2011,[16] although it has not been released.

Labor history[edit]

Blue Man Group is largely a non-union organization. There have been union organizing efforts at shows in Toronto and Las Vegas, but the show is no longer performed in Toronto.[15]

In September 2005, Blue Man Group moved from Luxor Hotel and Casino, where they operated under the hotel’s union contract, to The Venetian Hotel and Casino, where there was not a union contract in place. Stagehands at the Venetian started an organizing campaign with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees 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."[17]

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 Group. After the election, Blue Man Group refused to negotiate, arguing that the election was not valid because it did not include a half-dozen musical technicians who repair and maintain the show’s unusual musical instruments.[18]

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 the full Board in Washington, D.C. In September 2006 the NLRB rejected the challenge, ordering bargaining to begin.[15]

In September 2006, Blue Man Group filed a petition for review of the NLRB’s order in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Blue Man Group argued that the musical technicians, who work side by side with the stage crew, should have been included in the bargaining unit and, for this reason, the NLRB’s election and resulting certification of Local 720 as the bargaining representative were invalid. In October, the NLRB filed a cross-petition for enforcement of its order.[31] (D.C. Cir. Nos. 06–1328 & 06–1341 NLRB v. Blue Man Vegas, LLC Board Case Nos. 28-CA-20868 and 28-RC-6440).[19]

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.[20]

On June 10, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the NLRB and denied Blue Man Group’s petition for review.[19] Following this decision upholding the election, Blue Man Group and the union promptly began negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.

The union withdrew the legal complaints with Blue Man Group in 2010.[21]

Discography[edit]

Videography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Topic Galleries". CTnow. 
  2. ^ "BMP on". Answers.com. 
  3. ^ a b Lola Ogunnaike, "For the Blue Man Army, Recruitment Is on the Rise", New York Times, October 10, 2005
  4. ^ Vicki Goldberg, "High Tech Meets Goo With Blue Man Group", New York Times, November 17, 1991
  5. ^ Village Voice 1990–1991 Obie awards. Retrieved December 23, 2007.
  6. ^ Lucille Lortel Awards – Previous Nominees and Recipients. Retrieved December 23, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Viki Goldberg, "Blue Man Joins the Vegas Collection, New York Times, April 30, 2000
  8. ^ "Blue Man Group National Tour". January 21, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Norwegian Introduces Norwegian Epic's Captains And Hotel Directors Unveils Inaugural Sailing Dates in Europe and U.S. Miami – Oct 15, 2009". http://www.ncl.com/. 
  10. ^ BLUE MAN GROUP / Show in Berlin – English[dead link]
  11. ^ "Blue men pack up bags". Official London Theatre Guide (Society of London Theatre). March 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  12. ^ "Blue Man Group – "DIE SHOW SENSATION"". Bluemangroup.ch. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  13. ^ a b c Blue Man Group: Inside the Tube. PBS. 2006. 
  14. ^ Cohen, David S. (September 8, 2008). "Blue Man Group heads to bigscreen". Variety. 
  15. ^ a b c Cohen, David S. (September 15, 2009). "Blue Man, Nat Geo map 3D pic plans". Variety. 
  16. ^ "What is Blue Man Group?". Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. 
  17. ^ Michael J. Mishak, Las Vegas Sun. "'Example of how rotten labor law is'". Las Vegas Sun. 
  18. ^ "Next Blue Man Group act: Bargain with union – Business". Lvrj.com. June 12, 2008. 
  19. ^ a b Michael J. Mishak, "Culinary finds own path to growth: Forced to use elections, other unions fall short of organizing success", Las Vegas Sun, December 1, 2007
  20. ^ Michael J. Mishak "Ignoring law, Blue Man Group drags out union fight", Las Vegas Sun, October 9, 2007
  21. ^ BLUEMAN PRODUCTIONS SETTLED (Notification date 12/2010) International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE)
  22. ^ "Off Broadway Alliance Awards". Retrieved August 24, 2011. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]