I finally saw the Blue Man Group show in Chicago today. It was my eleventh show overall: Three in Vegas, three in Orlando, four on the Megastar tour (in three cities). I've wanted to see one of the smaller venue shows for awhile, to see how they handle the constraints.
After reading the program, I noticed one of the dudes played on the Megastar tour, and oddly enough, I recognized him from the DVD of that show. This show has a three-piece band, which is the smallest one I've seen. The theater itself has almost no lobby, and it's a far cry from the opulence of the Vegas theater in the Venetian (they're moving to the Monte Carlo in October). But hey, they have the bathroom song in the bathroom. I need to find that so I can play it in my own crapper.
The staging constraints only detract from the show by way of forced asymmetry. The video screen is stage left, with the band on top, and the drums and tube instruments on forced to stage right. I suppose the gum ball and marshmallow tossing is also less impressive because the distance is less.
Having the smaller band does take away from certain parts of the music. For example, the "wire man"/"stomp your feet-clap your hands" bit is just outright missing half of the instrumentation. It's visually impressive, but doesn't sound as good. Ditto for "Rods and Cones," as I wasn't fond of the arrangement at all. On the other hand, you can see where "PVC IV" works just fine with a smaller band. They also don't do the "Chant Jam" that Vegas had (and I think Orlando opened with at least), because when I listen, I hear more instruments than three. I don't know if any of the shows do that anymore with the arrival of the giPads and dance party finale, but it would be a shame. The build of the PVC and the band on that was perfect.
The use of the enormous giPads is a pretty neat addition (they look like huge iPads), and they actually get used quite a bit, replacing the old TV's and bits they used to do with them. They're used as a visual component in video as well. It's my understanding that all of the shows have evolved a bit to use these.
The Chicago show does the paper finale, with the addition of the big floating balls. I'm not entirely fond of the music choice. Actually, the adaptation of KLF's "Last Train to Trancentral" remains my favorite finale song. The balls also seem at odds with the paper, and standing up to bounce them around while the strobes are firing is hard. The continuity of the show just seems broken when they start making jokes about their balls. I dunno... the ending is here to stay, and I know they do it elsewhere, but it doesn't seem to capture the same energy.
It's a really entertaining show, as I would expect, it just doesn't have the same epic quality as the bigger shows. It does come with many of the updates, particularly with lighting in the last five or six years, but lacks the video projection. I think if you're a fan, you need to see it at least once.