August 1, 2013

Wiggles return with new cast members

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment at 5:49 pm by dinaheng

The Wiggles are back!

The world’s most famous rock band for youngsters are returning to the United States and Canada this month with a new album/DVD, a new TV show, and new cast members — including the group’s first female Wiggle. The tour, which opens August 17 in Philadelphia, runs through October 6, ending in Washington, D.C.

After 21 years together, the Australian group decided to change its lineup last May, leaving Anthony Field (Blue Wiggle), the only remaining original member in the new cast. Joining Field are Simon Pryce (Red Wiggle), Lachlan “Lachy” Gillespie (Purple Wiggle) and Emma Watkins (Yellow Wiggle).Dinah Eng

“Greg Page (Yellow Wiggle) and Murray Cook (Red Wiggle) wanted to spend more time with their families,” explains Field. “Jeff Fatt (Purple Wiggle) has a bit of a health problem and had a pacemaker put in last year. The guys can’t get on the road anymore. But Jeff’ll come down to the studio and play the keyboard. Murray’s in the office all the time, and is good with advice, and Greg will help out, too.”

Sam Moran, who replaced Page for six years when Page had health problems, is now doing his own show for NickJr, “Play Along With Sam.”

Field says that for new audiences, the current cast members are The Wiggles. “I’m just the old fella,” he says, adding that the change was a truly emotional decision for the gang.

“It was sad and lovely to be together as the original group last year,” Field notes. “But the transition’s been wonderful. The new cast started touring Australia and playing for very isolated communities, and received a wonderful reaction. I think the parents enjoy seeing one of the original group still there.”

Each of the the three next generation Wiggles are experienced members of The Wiggles’ empire. Pryce, who was Ringo the Ringmaster in the 2011 Wiggles shows, has been doing back-up vocals for the group’s CDs for 10 years. Gillespie has played Captain Feathersword in the Dorothy the Dinosaur Traveling Show since 2009, then joined The Wiggles tour, playing both a Wiggly Dancer and Wags the Dog. Watkins started with The Wiggles three years ago, performing as Fairy Larissa, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, and a Wiggly Dancer.

The Wiggles release new album and DVD, titled "Taking Off!" Photo courtesy of The Wiggles.

The Wiggles release new album and DVD, titled “Taking Off!” Photo courtesy of The Wiggles.

“Becoming a Wiggle is just the most unbelievable opportunity,” says Watkins, who is now the first female Wiggle. “Last year, we toured with the original Wiggles, and learned so much. We were Wiggles-in-training for eight months, and learned new songs and dances every day.”

Watkins’ character wears the yellow Wiggle shirt, a black skirt and bows in her hair. She says it’s exciting to see many girls in the audience, emulating her look with big yellow bows in their hair and on their shoes.

“Being the first girl Wiggle is fantastic,” Watkins says. “I play the drums, and most of the vocals are shared between Simon, Lachy and myself, which gives a new (three-part harmony) sound to The Wiggles.”

The group’s first CD and DVD, entitled “Taking Off!,” have been released, and a new TV series, “Ready, Steady, Wiggle!” premieres on Sprout on August 19.
Known for songs that promote health and self-esteem in children, two of the group’s founders (Field and Cook) originally met while studying early childhood development.

“We’ve all been given the opportunity to write new songs, and we’ve been collaborating together,” Watkins says. “The original Wiggles are the directors and the creative thinkers of the company. They’ve all been in the studio, and will continue to write songs.”

As Field puts it, “Change is a great thing, as long as it fits with the original ethos, and I think this does.”

For tour schedule and more information, check out http://www.thewiggles.com.au/us/events/101.

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