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Celebrate with the guys from Down Under.
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Tickling funny bones and eliciting giggles and jiggles from youngsters throughout the world, the Wiggles have launched an international Celebration! tour that will touch down at Washington's Warner Theatre next Tuesday.
For this tour, all four of the original Wiggles will be together again--for one last hurrah before Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt pass along their red, yellow and purple duds to others after 21 years of sparking the imaginations of thousands of little fans.
"This tour has been a joy," Cook said of the reaction to appearances by the widely popular children's band. "We see young adults in the audience who used to come when they were children who are now bringing their own children to see us. And we see teenagers who grew up with the Wiggles coming out for this closing show."
Cook explains that although this is a final tour for the original four, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field will stay on and will be joined by three new performers, as well as longtime favorites Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword.
"The four of us are lifelong friends, and we will continue to be connected," he said, "and we'll continue to write for the Wiggles and, from time to time, we may do a few songs where we play the instruments.
"We tell the children that there will be new Wiggles, and even bring them onstage to do a couple of songs," Cook adds. "Kids understand change or are learning about change, and we are always honest with them about what's happening and they are fine with it. Though there was one little boy who asked Anthony, 'When Murray and Greg and Jeff leave, will my Wiggles DVD still work?' We thought that was great and put it into the show."
The Wiggles' consistent global popularity is due, in part, to the joyful atmosphere rooted in their longstanding friendship as well as the background in early childhood development shared by the members. Cook, Field and Page met at Macquarie University in Sydney while studying early childhood education.
"That was a great foundation. We learned a lot about how children think and about using music with children, and how to communicate on their level," said Cook. "Children are basically egocentric, so when you relate to them onstage, you talk to them as if you are just talking to one child. They also tend to have a single focus, so we try not to have too much going on at the same time."
Cook explains how empathy with the young audience influences topics for the songs the group writes and performs.
"We think about what interests them and what is going on in their world," he said. "That's why we write songs about food or riding in the car--things that may seem banal to adults but are really exciting for children. We use a lot of humor, but at the same time we take our audience very seriously and want to give them a positive experience."
In addition, Cook notes the value of the experience of a live performance for children: "Even though today's kids have technology that we didn't grow up with, children are fundamentally the same. They still learn about the world in the same way and they still love play, and fantasy, and fun."
From the Americas to Australia (the group's homeland), children have resonated with the joyful spirit of the Wiggles.
The world over, little people arrive at the shows dressed in the colors of their favorite Wiggles, bearing bones for Wags and roses for Dorothy. They dance with unbridled enthusiasm to their favorite songs, and they share the same excitement about yelling "Wake up, Jeff!" in unison to roust that dozing purple Wiggle.
Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.