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Rhapsody in Blue 

Entertainment's most famous painted men go for rock glory

click to enlarge Right this way to comedy, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Right this way to comedy, ladies and gentlemen.

Blue Man Group has left its mark on America. Seriously.

The blue grease paint the bald fellows wear never dries or hardens providing an unsettling wet look and ensuring that any number of concert venues, theaters and talk show green rooms suffer blue smudges.

Perhaps the marks are the Blue Man Group's way of claiming a space as their own, akin to bands scrawling their names on the walls at the legendary New York City venue CBGB. Rock star behavior deserves a rock star tour, and the new How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0 is a primer for rock stardom. Singer Tracy Bonham will open the show complete with a vibrant visual display and a full band will be on hand to back up the Blue Men's percussive antics.

Oh yes, children, the roof shall be raised.

The group formed in the 1980s, when Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink began performing on New York City's streets. The company has since grown into 60 Blue Men some of whom perform regularly in seven cities including Berlin, Toronto and Boston, and others who travel with the touring production.

Zack Buell, speaking while on tour in Houston, Texas, has donned the makeup and nondescript black clothing for two years. As an actor who also worked as a drummer, he says that auditioning for Blue Man was a natural leap, though he really didn't know much about the group, beyond some Intel television ads.

"[Being a Blue Man] is definitely interesting. It's not really miming, it's more of a three-as-one character three Blue Men onstage, sometimes acting as one character," Buell says. "There's a connection, even though we're three separate people. We communicate with each other, as well as with the audience."

In the Megastar show, the Blue Men purchase a manual, in hopes of learning the ABCs of rock showmanship. Shortly thereafter, they are put through a number of lessons, from how to play the instruments to how to strike the various cock-of-the-walk poses, la Kiss or Led Zeppelin. Tongue firmly in cheek, the Blue Man Group takes a bit of the air out of rock's big names (and bigger egos), all while putting on a thoroughly kick-ass rock show themselves.

But a band is nothing without an audience. With that in mind, Blue Man Group often strives for near-Gallagher levels of audience participation. Since the show is a hodgepodge of acts both scripted and entirely improvisational, it's a fine and dangerous line to walk.

Yet Buell says they've never really encountered anything akin to crickets-chirping silence. In fact, the Blue Man is downright Zen about the whole thing.

"The Blue Man doesn't know what's good or bad, or right or wrong," he says. "He accepts all reactions equally. We encourage the audience to participate in any way even by not participating."

Capsule

Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0

World Arena

3185 Venetucci Blvd.

Friday, Oct. 27, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $41.50-$77; call 520-SHOW or visit

ticketswest.com.

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