Sentinel Staff Writer
10:53 AM EDT, May 21, 2013
The Blue Man Group officially introduces its refurbished Universal CityWalk show on Feb. 24 with about 50 percent new content and 50 percent "classic" routines, says Blue Man co-founder Phil Stanton. Many fan favorites survive the retooling but missing from the new production is the paper-frenzy finale.
Some of the new material was previewed Thursday to select Blue Man Group fans, Universal Orlando employees and members of the media at the theater wedged between Universal Studios theme park and the CityWalk's Hard Rock Cafe.
One segment featured the three Blue Man characters using three "Gi-Pads" -- tablets about 8 or 9 feet tall -- to skewer the state of interpersonal communication today. The first one displayed (in appropriately ginormous type) "Lit Twits." The second one urged the user to blog and tweet about what was just read, immediately. And the third one shared data from studies showing how all these connections are really making us disconnected.
Other apps on the Gi-Pads highlighted cats on sweepers, singing alpacas and other matter curious to the blue guys.
The show was dark for a few weeks in order to rework the stage entirely. It now features more LED screens and assorted lighting functions. "It has a quality of light that conveys so much energy," Stanton says. Members of the band are still elevated in a cube behind screens.
The new finale encourages audience members to stand up and shake their booty. (Other curious nicknames used for the buttocks: Smiling bulldog? Minneapolis and St. Paul?) Then giant, glowing balls are released from the ceiling for folks to bat about, beach-ball style. This seemed to go on for a long time, but to be honest, members of the media are not, by nature, bodacious booty shakers.
Gone: The former finale that featured a theater-wide curtain of paper, pulled down from the back of the house, over the heads of tugging spectators, piling up near the stage.
"We had this ending with paper that comes out and kind of intertwines everybody, turns everybody into children and kind of makes us all feel like we're connected and in one space," Stanton says. "We thought we could never sort of top that, but we've taken a sidestep and provided probably an even better ending to the show with these lighted helium balls."
The new finale includes a paper-driven effect, but it has less waste.
"Our sense of environmental conscience wouldn't let us keep doing paper like that, even though it was recycled," Stanton says. "At a certain point, it just felt like we need to find an alternate means of expressing that."
For more information, go to www.universalorlando.com/blueman.
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