The Wiggles have been officially wiggling for 22 years, entertaining children (and adults brave enough to admit it) through song, silly dance and characters worthy of celebrity status. They perform this weekend in two shows at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai.
The quartet are a who’s who of children’s performers – and the annual end-of-year national tour in their home country of Australia sells more than 120,000 tickets. Some of their biggest fans include John Travolta, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, John Fogerty, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Rock, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Cate Blanchett – and, of course, their kids.
Know your Wiggles
For those over the age of six or residing under a rock, The Wiggles are four children’s entertainers: Simon Pryce, Lachlan Gillespie, Emma Watkins and Anthony Field.
Formed 23 years ago at Sydney’s Macquarie University, three of the original four were qualified early-childhood teachers. However, there have been many (amicable, obviously) line-up changes over the years, says Field.
“Simon, Lachy and Emma are our new Wiggles,” says Field. “I’ve been here from the start. Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Zamel the Camel complete the current troupe.”
Original members Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt are still part of the Wiggles Company, while the former members Greg Page and Sam Moran are both pursuing solo television careers.
The Wiggles are far from being four overenthusiastic adults living like Peter Pan in Neverland, but they are certainly qualified to sing.
“Simon has a beautiful voice, and he should, after 150 performances as Australia’s Phantom of the Opera,” says Field. “Emma is a graduate of the Australian Film and Television School and Lachy is a trained singer from the same theatrical school Hugh Jackman attended.”
How it all began
Field, Cook and Page met at Macquarie, where they were all studying early-childhood education. Together with his fellow musician Fatt, who played with Field in the popular 1980s band The Cockroaches, The Wiggles were born.
“The Wiggles now remind me so much of the original early days. We are having a great time,” he says, adding that there isn’t a business strategy in place. “It was always about preschool theatre and music and still is.”
The Wiggles, Barney and U2
Field refuses to be drawn into a conversation on whether The Wiggles would beat Barney in a showdown. “It just wouldn’t be the Wiggle way,” he says. “We have produced more than 5,000 songs and 6,000 shows over the past 23 years,” says Field. Many of the songs are modern classics, including Hot Potato and Do the Daddy Longlegs.
The Wiggles are also referred to as “U2 for toddlers”. “We may be compared with U2 but the difference is we’ve have found what we are looking for,” jokes Field. “Hot potato, cold spaghetti and mashed banana.”
On the road again
Back from a gruelling 38-city US tour, Field admits 41 nights on a bus was hard going but worth it. “My daughter Lucia once played a song 27 times on a road trip. That’s when you know you have a connection with your audience,” says Field. “The Wiggles have given me a rare opportunity to travel the world and see the value of children in our societies. I think the future looks wiggly.”
• The Wiggles will perform at Atlantis, The Palm on Friday at 6pm and Saturday at 10am, 2pm and 6pm, as part of their Taking Off! world tour. Tickets are from Dh220, book at www.ticketmaster.ae or call 800 86823