From their xylophonic instrumentals to their audience singalong of "Go Ask Alice," Blue Man Group has made music as much a part of its act as toilet paper, spinning canvases and spurting goo. On Dec. 7, 1999, the theatrical troupe released their first CD, "Audio." But leave it to these azure techno-whizzes to move one link further up on the music chain.
On Feb. 13, the "Audio" album — which is nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Grammy Award — will be released in DVD format (more specifically, "DVD 5.1 Surround Sound"), compatible with both DVD video and audio systems.
A Blue Man press release cautions that though the DVD contains some photos and interview footage, it's still should be considered a music disk, as opposed to a video experience. Or as they put it: "This new format will allow you to hear our music through 5 channels, producing our work the way it was intended."
Upon the 1999 original release of "Audio," Blue Man spokesperson Manuel Igrejas was careful not to call the Virgin Records disc a "cast album," noting that although the music contains "recognizable elements" from the stage production, it's not the actual score of the show. In a statement, original cast-member Chris Wink put it this way: "On `Audio,' we were free to structure the music on its own terms and were able to create a listening experience that is unburdened by theatrical obligations." Instruments used on the recording include electric zithers, "airpoles" and, of course, plumbing pipes.
Created by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, the group began performing on the streets of Manhattan and then graduated to PS 122 and Dixon Place. After an unforgettable stint at 1991's Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival and an Obie-winning run at La MaMa, Blue Man Group opened their "Tubes" at Off-Broadway's Astor Place Theatre Nov. 17, 1991 and is still going strong (4,446 performances as of Feb. 8) — and still sending tons of paper cascading over audiences' heads. On Oct. 27, 1997, the Windy City officially turned blue when the avant garde theatre trio opened its third resident company in Chicago, IL. These "curious, gentle beings from inner space" — who munch Cap'n Crunch, toss marshmallows at each other, create colorful works of spit up art, drum and play specially designed instruments — currently reside at the Briar Street Theatre on North Halsted. Since Oct. 1995 the second Blue Man company has been banging away in Boston, and, more recently, Blue Man has been making a splash playing at the Luxor in Vegas. Initially, creators Wink, Goldman and Stanton did 1,000 straight performances as the trio at the Astor Place before taking a break and selecting new cast members. It's not so easy to cast Blue Men, since they not only have to have solid acting and drumming skills but must be between 5'10 and 6' and the same body type as the other cast-members.
For tickets to the Astor Place Blue Man Group show, call (212) 254-4370.
— By David Lefkowitz and Christine Ehren