Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2021 10:55 AM | Contributed by BrettV
From the announcement on Facebook:
While this is the end of our run at Universal Orlando, we hope our fans will visit when we safely reopen in Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Boston.
Thank you to the Blue Man Orlando cast, crew and staff for more than 6,000 shows and to the millions of fans who shared in our incredible 14 year run!
See the post on Facebook.
This is a serious bummer, but I'm also not entirely surprised. It doesn't feel like UO put the weight of their marketing behind the show in recent years, and Covid was just the nail in the coffin.
I was at what I believe was the second public show back when they opened, and we ended up sitting next to the guy who was president of the resort at the time and his son. Oddly enough, we were also at one of the last few shows before it closed, there for my son's birthday. Pretty sure I had seen the show at least a half-dozen times in between.
My girlfriend was working as a lighting tech at Blue Man when Covid hit. She was laid off in March and the even back then we were considering it probably wouldn't come back. Unfortunately right now in Central Florida there is very little work for techs and the market is flooded with others from Disney, Blue Man, Universal, and such.
Yeah, it's a mess. A friend of ours was the business manager there a couple of years ago (got to have "Simon" for "speaking" happy birthday once in the pre-show!), and my wife inquired once about a part-time SM gig. It's a small circle, and it has contracted a lot in the last year. I imagine it's going to take years for it to return to normal.
Add this to my list of "I've got time, I'll check it out later" things I will never get to experience again. My ex-girlfriend was a Stage Manager there so I was offered many times the opportunity to see the show but always pushed it off cause its a local show and will always be around. I got to see the Vegas show a few years ago and I loved it so this is definitely a bummer.
Same here, and for me that goes for Blue Man, Cirque, and Hoop De Doo. Yet I can say I did go here before it closed.
I was at least able to knock out La Nouba before the closure, thanks to that same ex-girlfriend. Since she knew people we were able to watch the show from the booth and afterwards get a tour of the facility. Very cool experience, I really enjoyed that show and was mad at myself for not seeing it sooner.Last edited by 99er, Tuesday, February 2, 2021 8:08 PM
I’ve never experienced Blue Man in any way, shape or form. I’m not sure why, it’s been through town several times and I was always aware of their presence at Universal and Vegas. I’m sure it’s a good show- the longevity speaks for itself.
La Nouba remained one of my favorite Cirque shows, even though there were bigger and flashier ones that came along later. I’ll never forget the little, no- tiny girls that tossed the yo yos.
As for Hoop de Doo, I stopped saying how much I disliked it years ago as my opinion was always met with attacks from die hard fans. I know people that have visited Disney regularly for years and go every single time. It was hard to get to, the waiting area was outdoors, the food was terrible, and I barely cracked a smile at all that home-spun hokum. It was expensive and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
I’m not a Disney grouch, btw, far from it. I’ve sucked into a lot of entertainment there, have laughed, sang along, and shed more than one tear. Just not at the ‘Doo.
The BMG stage shows are great, for sure, but the arena tours were epic. I saw the How To Be A Megastar tour four times in various cities (once with Gonch in Dayton!). The first time, in Cleveland, Tracy Bonham opened and performed with them, which was pretty great, as she shreds the violin during their version of "Baba O'Riley." Their songs with guest singers, mostly on The Complex album, are kind of dark and surprisingly enduring.
I wonder if the Cirque ownership had anything to do with the decision to not bring it back, or if Universal was just ready to do something else. Like I said, they've surveyed about theatrical shows at least three times that I can remember in the last few years, asking about interest in some of the jukebox musicals (Jersey Boys and the like) as well as some of the bigger Broadway and touring shows.
Cirque bought them in 2017 so I don't think the original purchase had anything to do with it.
I think they were coming close to the contract renewal anyway (like within a year) with the Pandemic and the Bankruptcy they mutually decided to cancel the contract early, especially since they don't know when they will actually be able to have shows again.
Right now the new owners of Cirque are also pretty much ignoring Blue Man. Notice how there have been no press or talk at all about Blue Man (except for this one show canceled) but the Cirque branded shows have been all over. I think they new owners just want to dump Blue Man. I could see them dropping all the shows before the year is out (maybe a show or two in vegas if the partners don't let them off the hook) and retiring Blue Man or just keeping the tours going (when those start up again.)
I doubt they would retire it. The IP is still valuable. It's a fairly enduring brand.
All this talk would break our slithernoggin’s heart, wouldn’t it?
There is the matter of that building there at Universal and something could be done easily. All those buildings, maybe by design, are about the same- basically flexible sound stages. They easily adapt to theatrical productions, rides, ride-the-movie attractions, or haunts. Right now it’s set up for a show with plenty of room for a large audience so a touring-style musical would be ideal. (As tenuous as that sounds these days). Big name draws like Penn and Teller have found homes in Vegas. Shows like Avenue Q don’t tour anymore and that one’s a little dirty for an amusement park anyway. Jersey Boys is extremely popular but it seems everyone and their brother has a cover 4 Seasons act. In fact I saw a really good one at BGT- they sang em all without that cumbersome story line.
It seems show business has been gone so long that I’m stuck for a good idea of something I’d pay to see.
I assume the sound stage and offices will just go back to being a blank space ready for the next lease. I am curious if Universal would pursue other options from 3rd parties, use the space themselves for an offering, or just continue to operate the stage like the other stages. Wasn't there a rumor floating around that the park was going to operate a shortened version of "Wicked"? Pretty sure NBC Universal owns the rights to the musical and I thought one of the Asia parks had some type of tie in with the show at one point. I think something like that could work in the same space once we get there but it's still gonna be a long way off.Last edited by 99er, Wednesday, February 3, 2021 12:27 PM
Universal has the film rights to the Wicked musical. As best I can tell, the producers of the original show are still the principals of the LLC that owns it, and of course the composers and writers still get a cut of everything.
The other interesting thing about the surveys is that they were trying to gauge interest in the potential for several theaters, for "Broadway style" shows. As it was a passholder survey, they also asked if you attended shows locally at Dr. Phillips Center. I'm still not entirely sure what they were after there.
I remember doing the studio tour for Nickelodeon when Universal first opened, and they bragged about having the largest winched electric grid in any studio (meaning sections could drop down so you could hang lights on it). I swear it looked like some version of that was still in the BMG theater, which was barely a theater and more of a repurposed soundstage. Nothing about it felt particularly permanent.
I believe Nickelodeon used Desisti equipment for the grid system. I remember as a kid on the tour being fascinated about that system and how different it was compared to the normal way of hanging studio lights. I assume it was because of the quick turnaround for the different shows shot in the two sound stages that Nickelodeon leased. And you are probably correct that the system originally installed was still being used for BMG. Matt might be able to answer better since his girlfriend worked for BMG but from what I remember my ex telling me, the show was very much built as if it were going to be a temp show. At the end of the day, that building is still just a soundstage and will turn into a blank, open space once BMG removes all of their gear.
I was fascinated too, because I was hoping to start a TV curriculum in college a year later (I did). Having been on all of the local news sets in Cleveland, I was amazed at how much room Nick had there, where Double Dare was currently set up.
The stage and fake proscenium is all temporary looking gear in there... what did they do to build the ramp for seating? Is that concrete?
Yeah the original grid system was removed around (I think) 2015 and standard truss and motors were installed. The entire thing is built temporary, it's a standard leg stage and all the seating is removable. The stuff on the floor was removed regularly the higher seats were on a scaffold system (similar to what is brought in for Grinchmass, though beefier) that is actually bolted to the ground. But that's nothing the Sound Stages aren't used to as they get items bolted to the ground, removed, and the floor repaired regularly.
At the end of the day it's just another soundstage, though the lobby and offices attached are a bit special compared to the others. The lobby and outside park entrance is probably the biggest thing that makes me think it won't just end up as another production space. I could see another 3rd party moving in or Events using the space (maybe in addition to SS33 or replacing it) But as far as I know (and I'm really low on the totem pole, so I don't know a lot) nothing has even been discussed yet about what to do with the space.
Hopefully the bathroom music persists. 😂
I heard that a small group of smurfs were peacefully protesting near the entrance gate.
(Sorry...I couldn't help myself.)
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