Updated June 30, 2020 - 10:09 pm
Cirque du Soleil was thinking global when it acquired Blue Man Group in July 2017. The artistic and business partnership was designed to deliver the Blue Men to international outposts where Cirque had toured, and add a hit show to its growing arsenal.
That concept, and the show itself, is among those halted by the coronavirus pandemic. Blue Man Group’s cast and crew were informed Monday they were being terminated, at least temporarily.
The show at Luxor remains indefinitely dark, but as a Cirque spokeswoman emphasized, “We have every intention of returning the show when guidelines allow.” The production company, and also MGM Resorts International officials, emphasize they want the Blue Men back.
For now, Cirque says 57 employees have been laid off from a show that has been a hit on the Strip for 20 years.
Marc Roberts, a member of the troupe at Luxor dating to 2004, said reality set in pretty quickly as the cast and crew were informed by Cirque corporate that the Blue Men and their support staff are in “call-back” mode.
“I am equal parts heartbroken and really proud,” Roberts said. “I’m thinking about how fortunate I’ve been to have been a Blue Man all these years. It’s hard to be too sad about that.”
The artists and technical staff are among the nearly 3,500 employees who have been let go as Cirque has cut its international touring productions. The company is sharpening its focus on its half-dozen Las Vegas Strip productions, and its new show in Orlando, Florida.
BMG employees are eligible for state unemployment insurance.
The silent, blue-painted troupe with the bald skull caps was created in 1987 by New York performance artists Phil Stanton, Chris Wink and Matt Goldman. Wink left the company in 2018 to take on a lead creative role at the Area15 entertainment complex in Las Vegas.
Blue Man Group debuted at Luxor in February 2000, in the theater occupied by Criss Angel for a decade and most recently Cirque’s short-lived “R.U.N” production. The show has since moved to The Venetian (what is now Opaline Theater), the Monte Carlo (the former, and since-closed, Lance Burton Theater) and back into its own customized theater at Luxor in 2015.
The troupe is well-known for creating original music with PVC pipes while munching Cap’n Crunch. The Blue Men toss marshmallows across the stage into each other’s mouths, then spit the contents onto a canvas to create a white, global tower — as art. Those pieces will be a standing testament to Blue Man Group, until the troupe can return.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.