The excitement is building in the hotel conference room. A handful of preschoolers and their well-meaning parents wait for Aussie megastars The Wiggles to arrive. I have bonded with four-year-old Julia over crayons and a colouring page (my own kids are too old to join me) and decide to do a dot-to-dot of Dorothy the Dinosaur. As we nibble a Wiggles-themed buffet of fruit salad, hot potatoes and shimmy shakes, in come the heroes, Anthony Field (the silver side-burned original), along with relative newcomers Simon Pryce, Emma Watkins and Lachlan Gillespie, who joined the group two years ago. I met them then when dropped in to ParentsCanada’s toy testing event at Sick Kids Hospital, surprising the kids and parents with a performance and visit.
Now the new members are no longer new, and to many fans they are the originals. Full of energy, the band performed a short set of catchy tunes: “Simon Says” (a no brainer if you’ve got someone in your band named Simon), then a harmony-laden version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” complete with a dance from Emma. Her training has spread to the rest of the group and the foursome laid down some serious moves to “Do the Dance”.
“The choreographer is finally able to sink her teeth into someone,” says Emma. “She tells me what to do, then I translate it to the boys.” Deep-voiced Simon has ballet and opera training. "I'm a dark horse," he jokes. Lachy is a talented singer and keyboardist and has a musical theatre background. Anthony has added the banjo to his instrumental repertoire. “I wanted to try something different,” he says.
One thing hasn’t changed with the Wiggles 2.0, and that’s its commitment to making great music that kids love and that doesn’t drive parents crazy. That authenticity and talent is the key to longevity that has kept other kids entertainers like Sharon and Bram, Fred Penner and Al Simmons in business for so long.
The song writing is collaborative and plays to everyone’s strengths. Old favourites will still be in the concert that hits 40 cities starting in October. In true rock’n’roll fashion the band is travelling via tour bus. “But we’ll be drinking herbal tea instead,” says Emma.
As in many workplaces, romance has bloomed, and Emma and Lachy are engaged. When I ask if they’ll be featured in our sister publication, Today’s Bride, Anthony chimes in "Have you got one called Yesterday's Groom? It could be for the discerning gentleman.” The trained ECE recently started blogging for ParentsCanada. You can read Anthony’s tips and strategies for parenting preschoolers at ParentsCanada.com/blogs/The-Wiggle-Room.
For concert dates, click here.