June 30, 2011

The Wiggles celebrate 20th anniversary

Posted in Between Us column, Business, Entertainment at 1:57 am by dinaheng

The world may have changed in the last 20 years, but when it comes to the delight that children feel for the music and antics of The Wiggles, it’s good to know that some things never change.

My nephew Mark, who’s now six, has loved The Wiggles since he could stand up and well… wiggle. He’s learned the words to their songs, the moves to their dances, and the stories behind their characters on stage. He knows that Anthony (Field) likes to eat, Jeff (Fatt) is always falling asleep, Sam (Moran) is the one who sings, and Murray (Cook) loves to play his guitar. 

On July 3, The Wiggles will begin performing on stages across the United States on a “Big Birthday” Summer Tour that celebrates their 20th anniversary as the pop rock band favorite of children around the world.

“When you’re dealing with young children, it’s dealing with the world around them,” says Murray Cook — who, along with Anthony Field — was a pre-school teacher before The Wiggles became famous. “Children fundamentally haven’t changed. They’re just learning about the world with new technology that they accept more easily than older people because they know it’s not something to fear.”

When the group first started, Cook notes, performances were recorded on cassette tapes and videotapes. Today, it’s CDs and DVDs, along with an Internet presence that continues to use early childhood education principles in products that draw fans and their parents.

“We’ve tried to keep up with social media,” Cook says. “The parents have access to Facebook, YouTube and sites on the Internet, which is a good way for us to keep in touch with our audiences. Our live shows are bigger, and we cover the globe.”

This summer, parents have been invited to submit auditions online, performing their best rendition of “Fruit Salad,” for a shot at being the Fifth Wiggle on stage when the tour comes to their town. Cook says the competition recognizes that the group performs for families, not just the youngsters who scream and dance at their concerts.

Over the last few years, our family has joined Mark in seeing The Wiggles in concert in Houston (where he lives) or Los Angeles (where I live). It’s always a joyful event as we walk to the concert halls among families who know that celebrating the simple things in life is the best part of growing up.

No doubt that’s why the most popular Wiggles songs include “Fruit Salad,” “Hot Potato” and “Rock a Bye Your Bear” — after all, what could be more important than healthy eating, and sleeping safely in the arms of someone who loves you?

“We sing songs about a safe, innocent world,” Cook says. “We try to be as multicultural as we can, and that hasn’t changed. Because of technology, children are bombarded by images they weren’t exposed to in the past. We celebrate the innocence of childhood, and we love playing live on stage.”

For information on The Wiggles “Big Birthday” Summer Tour, check out http://www.thewiggles.com.



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