I journeyed to Las Vegas with my dear friend and rising LA musical theatre star Peter Musante last week, right after his return from several months performing western songs at the Tokyo Disney and just before his migration to New York City next week to begin training with Blue Man Group.  Perhaps the coolest thing about our mad and gloriously dysfunctional week of Vegas dazzle and long nights talking about life til dawn was seeing the Blue troupe’s permanent and most technically spectacular Vegas show through Peter’s enormously widened eyes. 

See, not only is Peter venturing into a whole new city and brand new dimension of his already staggeringly successful professional life since his graduation from UCLA in 2005 (Peter was my TicketHolder Award choice that same year for Lead Performance in a Musical as Huck Finn in Big River at San Diego’s Moonlight Amphitheatre and a runner-up for honors last year in Musical theatre Guild’s Li’l Abner), the guy had never even seen the Blue Men perform.  Happily, however, in one evening, my most talented friend went from extreme anxiety to extreme excitement as he contemplated entering the next stage in his career development.   


When those infamously bald cobalt-colored guys debuted in 2005 in their own specially designed theatre in the gloriously ostentatious Venetian Hotel, their wildly popular show, which combines rock music, astoundingly detailed multimedia theatrics, and a monumental amount of recycled paper products, was aimed to take yet another step into the future as seen by a bizarre trio of disorientated émigrés from some mysteriously altered dream state.  Playing in a suitably grand 1,760-seat home adjacent to their technically amazing Venetian neighbor Phantom of the Opera, BMG’s Vegas production is their most elaborate to date, admittedly designed to gleefully confound those somnambulant tribes of tourists and, surely, also to keep up with the Cirque du Soleil Jones. 

With the first few rows of patrons asked to don hooded raincoats, incredible video presentations assaulting the senses with mind-boggling statistical information about the world in which we try to live, and a vibrant live band providing rhythmically tribal accompaniment—at one point climbing the huge labyrinth of industrial piping behind the stage for a musical finale to make your jaw drop to about there—the three unstoppably agile Vegas Blue Men catch florescent marshmallows in their teeth, find their share of suitably wary victims in the house to help them create art pieces with their own bodies, and send reams and reams of recycled confetti tumbling from the back of the house, leaving the audience forced to pass it on toward the stage or be buried alive in the process.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Brett, Marcus, and David, the three azure performers who’ve energized the show both times I’ve attended, is the continuous state of world-class bewilderment they manage to maintain throughout the 100-minute performance, as though everything they experience happens for the first time.  Perhaps this is the one thing that made the Chaplin-esque Mr. Musante, son of a Union Square mime who shared her talents generously with her gifted offspring, realize how perfect his transformation into Blueness will be. 

Aside from relentlessly studying and practicing drumming over the entire period he was working onstage in Japan, Peter wasn’t sure how else to prepare for his impending conversation into Blue-osity, but I think he was instantly assured in Vegas that becoming a Blue Man won’t compromise honing his skills as an actor, as the members of this company give spectacularly understated and equally hilarious performances—and twice nightly.  After coffee and a serendipitous trip backstage at the Venetian with amiable Vegas Blue Man Brett, where Peter was introduced and then warmly welcomed as a potential future member of the family with open arms, the kid was more than ready to don his first skullcap and dig into that ominous jar of day-glo blue greasepaint.  And personally, whenever and wherever that happens, I can guarantee you I’ll be there to cheer him on.

Blue Man Group appears indefinitely at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas. for tickets, call 702-414-9000.


TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER teaches acting and theatre/film history at the New York Film Academy’s west coast campus at Universal Studios. He has been writing about LA theatre since 1987, including 12 years for BackStage, a 23-year tenure as Theatre Editor for Entertainment Today, and currently for As an actor, he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Best Actor Award as Kenneth Halliwell in the west coast premiere of Nasty Little Secrets at Theatre/Theater and he has also been honored with a Drama-Logue Award as Lennie in Of Mice and Men at the Egyptian Arena, four Maddy Awards, a Award, both NAACP and GLAAD Award nominations, and six acting nominations from LA Weekly. Regionally, he won the Inland Theatre League Award as Ken Talley in Fifth of July; three awards for his direction and performance as Dr. Dysart in Equus; was up for Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes honors as Oscar Wilde in the world premiere of Oscar & Speranza; toured as Amos “Mr. Cellophane” Hart in Chicago; and he has traveled three times to New Orleans for the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, opening the fest in 2003 as Williams himself in Lament for the Moths and since returning to appear in An Ode to Tennessee and opposite Karen Kondazian as A Witch and a Bitch. Never one to suffer from typecasting, Travis’ most recent LA performance, as Rodney in The Katrina Comedy Fest, netted the cast a Best Ensemble Sage Award from ArtsInLA. He has also been seen as Wynchell in the world premiere of Moby Pomerance’s The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder and Frank in Charles Mee’s Summertime at The Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Giuseppe “The Florist” Givola in Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for Classical Theatre Lab, Ftatateeta in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra at the Lillian, Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Rubicon in Ventura, Pete Dye in the world premiere of Stranger at the Bootleg (LA Weekly Award nomination), Shelly Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Egyptian Arena, the Witch of Capri in Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at the Fountain, and Dr. Van Helsing in The House of Besarab at the Hollywood American Legion Theatre. As a writer, he has also been a frequent contributor to several national magazines and five of his plays have been produced in LA. His first, Surprise Surprise, for which he wrote the screenplay with director Jerry Turner, became a feature film with Travis playing opposite John Brotherton, Luke Eberl, Deborah Shelton and Mary Jo Catlett. His first novel, Waiting for Walk, was completed in 2005, put in a desk drawer, and the ever-slothful, ever-deluded, ever-entitled Travis can’t figure out why no one has magically found it yet and published the goddam thing.