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Backstage with the Blue Man Group

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

From its origins on the streets of New York City some 25 years ago to the worldwide creative phenomenon it is today, Blue Man Group has successfully built its brand of multi-sensory, non-verbal performance art on the simple premise that people enjoy exploring cultural norms from the point of view of three child-like outsiders. Some of the tried and true themes, like the trio of Blue Men attempting to put on a dinner for a member of the audience with Twinkies, may seem dated and tend to slow down the pace of the show. Others, like the rock concert manual that instructs the audience on how to participate, work nonetheless. Some parts of the show have been updated for the 21st century, such as the use of giant iPhone screens and various mobile apps for theatrics, but the enduring appeal remains the iconic relationship of the Blue Men, plumbing and percussion. This is comedy, music, performance art, rock concert and party rolled into one big but compact show that educates and enlightens all of your senses at the same time.

A rare look backstage only serves to remind just how big a show this is. While not all the secrets behind the show were revealed on our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, we did get a look into the workings of some of the most impressive instruments in the Blue Men's sonic world, including the deceptively simply named PVCs (a large construction of PVC pipes that plays like a three-man xylophone) and the light-up PVC and foam electronic 'backpack'. There was also a sneak peek into the zones of the accompanying musicians (who are situated above stage), and their instruments that are often either rare – like the 10-string Chapman stick (pictured below) – or made just for the show.

The more mundane items were also of interest – in one performance week, the show makes use of 25 drum heads, 14 cymbals, 24 drumsticks, 50 gallons of paint (a fair bit of which is used in one of the most elaborate displays of audience participation we've seen), 32 pounds of Jell-O, 8 boxes of Cap'n Crunch, 96 bars of white Toblerone, 240 marshmallows, 800 mashed up bananas and 40 boxes of Twinkies. We're told at the start of our tour that the production's guiding maxim is "three as one", an idea that's all the more evident upon seeing the many smaller parts that form this great wall of sound.

The Blue Man Group ends its Macau run this Sunday. Tickets (from $380) are still available via Cotai Ticketing.

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