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ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS BLUE MAN GROUP TRIES TO RE-CREATE AURA OF '70S ARENA ROCK ACTS IN 'HOW TO BE A MEGASTAR TOUR 2.0'.

Byline: Sandra Barrera

Staff Writer

The Blue Man Group is not one for words.

But member Wes Day says his trio of bald-headed, PVC-playing percussionists slathered in blue greasepaint and black industrial wear has just written a love letter to every large- spectacle arena-rock act from the '70s.

Coming to Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk on Monday (with opening act Mike Relm), the "How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0" finds the group of sly, witty deconstructionists re-creating every ounce of adrenalin-pumping excitement generated by the likes of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Kiss back in the day to the tune of electronic music. And though they never speak, they say volumes about our expectations.

"Throughout the night, the audience will learn that it doesn't take a megastar and all of his egotism to create that feeling, in fact, it takes everyone in the building and all the elements coming together to create that feeling," says Day, who, at 31, has spent the last decade as one of many players in the mute world of the Blue Man Group.

Day was fresh out of the North Carolina School of the Arts when he auditioned for the role. His theatrical training coupled with his lifelong love of drumming were just what the troupe was looking for.

But it was his childish way of storytelling that ultimately landed him the job two weeks after the audition.

The day of his audition was the first time he'd ever seen a Blue Man performance. Immediately following the show he was asked to put on a bald cap and improvise with a few of its members.

Here's where you want to pay attention, Blue Man wannabes, because this might come in handy at Thursday's open casting call at the Hudson Theatre (6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles).

"We do the Stanford Meisner Technique where we look into the camera and say, 'What is that? Oh ....! Wait. It's wonderful.' So it's saying the same phrases over and over," Day says. "And then you'll stop saying them and you'll just tell that little story with your eyes. That's how you can tell if someone has good storytelling techniques."

His green eyes have just begun telling audiences about the road to mega-stardom. On the day of this interview, the Blue Man Group had only performed its first show on tour.

"It's such a large, technical undertaking that we hadn't even done a complete run-through without stopping until we had an audience last night," he says. "It was very stressful but we've been doing this for such a long time that we're really in tune with each other. I think that sometimes when a Blue Man doesn't know what to do, the audience really finds that characteristic attractive, meaning, they really empathize with the Blue Man. And I think that's why people fall in love with the character and are able to cheer for him."

Drawing the audience forward on the edge of its seat by tapping into its imagination without the use of words has transformed the off-off-off-Broadway oddity into a pop-culture icon.

"When I first started doing the show, we hadn't yet done the Intel commercials, and I think those really raised the national awareness of the Blue Man Group," he says. "That was our first step into the social consciousness."

Today, the Blue Man Group is cashing in with such projects as its ongoing Las Vegas production "Live at the Venetian," its own line of state-of-the-art musical instruments for kids and TV cameos.

And, of course, the Blue Man Group has embarked on the second incarnation of its big arena-rock tour described as a night of rock, rhythm and a touch of irony.

"We switched it up a bit and created a new set list, so it's a lot bigger show," Day says.

Among its changes is the addition of an infomercial personality similar to Ron Popeil, famous for his Set It and Forget It rotisserie.

He sells the Blue Man Group on the "How to Be a Megastar" manual by throwing in a guitar baster as part of the deal.

"Suppose your guitarist is doing a lot of unmelodic finger-tapping and is engaging in his own little masterpratory performance, you put him in his rock box," Day says. "When he comes out of the box, he plays in a more fluid, more melodic pattern."

And that's just a glimpse.

The Oregonian called the show a "mini-alternative circus" with the group venturing into the crowd and doing some comedy bits with them.

"There's a lot of comedy bits that are definitely very slapstickish, but then there's a lot of physical comedy and some elements of Buster Keaton, so I think we've got some good stuff," adds Day. "We're presenting both sides of the equation."

Sandra Barrera (818) 713-3728

sandra.barrera@dailynews.com

THE BLUE MAN GROUP

Where: Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City.

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Tickets: $75 to $105. (213) 480-3232 or www.ticketmaster.com.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) The Blue Man Group stands surrounded by their instrument of choice: PVC pipes. They bring their nearly wordless but hardly silent show to the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City on Monday.

(2) no caption (Blue Man Group)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 11, 2007
Words:882
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