The members of The Wiggles will always be kids at heart. For 27 years, the Australian children’s show sensation has educated and entertained millions upon millions of people worldwide. On Tuesday, June 5, the fun-loving, four-member group will return to our town for the first time in five years, bringing be-yourself positivity and sing-along jollity to The Granada Theatre. Founding Wiggle Anthony Field said fans can expect all the usual favorite characters such as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, and Wags the Dog, and of course, a team of Wiggle Dancers, as well as familiar songs, such as “Rock-a-Bye Your Bear,” and brand-new tunes. “It’ll be an exciting show for children, mums and dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles — everybody can come along,” he said. “We encourage everyone to have a wiggle.”
Since forming in 1991, the emphatically inclusive Wiggles (their name is taken from the way toddlers dance) have sold more than 30 million DVDs and CDs and eight million books and perform for millions of people each year. The current lineup features Field, Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce, and Emma Watkins. Watkins joined in 2010 as the Yellow Wiggle and is the first female member in the group’s history. Her addition brought more fans and new audiences.
The Wiggles’ worldwide success all began in a childhood education program at Sydney’s Macquarie University. There, Field met two of the other original Wiggles, Murray Cook and Greg Page, as fellow teachers-to-be. Field recruited a friend from his former rock band the Cockroaches, Jeff Fatt, and The Wiggles troupe was complete. “Honestly, we were just preschool teachers who did a music project at the end of university,” Field said. “It was really about putting together a good album for children, in a language they understood, with actions they could do. It was a beautiful, happy accident.”
There’s real learning behind their lessons and real principles behind their primary colors. “We take what we do really seriously,” Field said. He appreciates The Wiggles’ interactivity and is proud that the group has gotten kids out of their seats — especially in an era when smartphones and tablets take up more and more attention spans. “What I like about The Wiggles is that we encourage children to dance, to move, to be active, across all our mediums,” he said. “When we first started, children watched the television, and that was about it. What they have now is the stimulation of the little screens [and] the big screens, and one of the biggest challenges parents face is getting them to do things instead of just interacting with an iPhone or tablet.”
The Wiggles’ shows have maintained their special quality since day one, Field said, with kids’ infectious energy keeping things fresh year after year. “I’m loving it as much as the first day we started. Their enthusiasm and experience just rubs off on us, and it’s contagious,” he said. “It’s the first time a lot of them have been to a concert, the first time they’ve been amongst so many other children, and the first time they’ve seen a show onstage and lights production …. We like to say the best seat in the audience is onstage because we get to see the kids and families enjoying themselves.”
Above all, though, The Wiggles just encourage kids to be themselves. “When I was a child, I loved music, and I loved feeling safe in an environment where I was encouraged to be myself,” Field said. “Not all children think the same and not all act the same, and we’re happy with that. We just encourage them to be themselves. That’s why I felt happy when I was a child.”
The Wiggles perform Tuesday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m., at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St.). Call (805) 899-2222 or see granadasb.org.