When my good friend Bob visits Vegas he doesn’t come to gamble. He wants to see shows and eat at good restaurants. I like to go with him since I get to see places I wouldn’t normally go otherwise. This time we met at the J-POP in Mandalay Bay. Now apparently called Mizuya, it has two sections, a sushi restaurant and a lounge. I had some tasty salmon sushi at the restaurant before switching over to the lounge, where I tried THEcocktail. It’s easy to poke fun at Mandalay Bay for prepending “THE” to things to make words like THEhotel and THEcocktail, which was, of course, served by THEwaitress at THEtable where we were sitting. While I recommend THEcocktail (if you like THErum and THEstrawberries), be prepared for THEbill that the place charges, probably in part to make up for the fact that you can actually walk around the casino comfortably. In other words, the Mandalay Bay casino has a low number of slot machines per square foot compared with many other Vegas properties, according to my unscientific survey (consisting of noticing how far apart the rows of machines are). So my guess is that they have to make more money from THEdrinks and food.
From Mandalay Bay we took a taxi to the Venetian to eat at the Zeffirino Ristorante before watching the Blue Man Group. The Zeffirino is in the running for having one of the best restrooms in the nation. I hadn’t even known there was a competition until we ate at the restaurant. The food is top-notch, too, and from our second-floor window table we could see the gondolas floating past on the Grand Canal. (Or, wait… is that the bathroom?? No, it couldn’t be…)
Then it was time to go down to the theater for the show. The Blue Man Group was formed in 1988 and besides Las Vegas, has shows in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Berlin and Tokyo. The shows may vary somewhat from city to city, but in Las Vegas at the Venetian it is essentially the same show I saw five years ago when it was at the Luxor. I’m sure you’ve seen those blue men before on television or in ads, if not on stage, but I’ll describe them anyway. The three blue men wear latex “bald” caps to cover their hair and ears, and use greasepaint to color their heads and necks completely blue. This makes them essentially anonymous and raceless. The show mainly consists of these three blue men performing in various ways, often backed up by teams of musicians. The blue men themselves play a variety of percussion instruments, some based on PVC pipe. Pipes or tubes of one kind or another are a recurring theme in the show. There is also some audience participation. When I went, many people in the audience knew what to expect and eagerly waved their arms hoping to be picked to go up on stage.
During performances the blue men never talk but use gestures or pantomime to communicate. They are usually expressionless, showing almost no emotion other than wonder, surprise, or curiosity. This gives them an innocent child-like quality. Technology and perception are also themes of the show, and people interested in science tend to like the Blue Man Group. I found it very engaging. Clearly a lot of planning went into the production, and a lot of creativity. The show manages to be entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.
Afterward, many people visited the Blue Man Group store (conveniently located near the exit) where merchandise including CDs and videos were offered for sale, as well as that night’s “artwork” produced onstage earlier during the show. There was also a version of one of the PVC pipe percussion instruments available to try for yourself.
There is very little not to like about the Blue Man Group, but a couple of caveats do apply. First, artificial fog is used at the beginning of the show. While the fog is presumably harmless and soon dissipates, it may cause some uncomfortable respiratory or sinus symptoms in susceptible people. Then, at the end of the show, rolls of paper are produced and the paper is shuttled by the audience up to the front rows of the theater. If you have a tendency to be claustrophobic, you shouldn’t be up front where you could be “buried” in paper for a minute or two.
Other than that, the Blue Man Group is a lot of fun and if you haven’t yet seen the show, you shouldn’t miss out on this world-wide cultural phenomenon. You just might find yourself becoming part of the large fan base they already enjoy.