While it may have been 28 years since The Wiggles‘ Anthony (Field) first got kids excited to sing and dance along with simple, bouncing, bounding songs about fruit salads, hot potatoes, bears in need of bedtime, and soaring propellers, he still has at least as much energy as The Orpheum requires to fill it, in spite of technical difficulties with the audio that delayed the proper start of the show.
With all The Wiggles (Anthony, Simon, Lachy, Emma) on stage but no mics to help them reach the rafters, they opted to return to their Australian roots and go for a walkabout in the audience, with Emma and Simon exploring the aisles and meeting the many, adorably costumed and highly enthusiastic fans and their parents, receiving homemade gifts of bows, flowers, and pictures of the group. Anthony even recognized the imbalance with the Circle not receiving a visit and promised to send up ambassadors to meet and greet the teeming toddlers.
But it was the uncorked bubbliness of the whole group that kept the whole auditorium singing and clapping along with the diminished instruments until, with a sudden burst of Australian delight, the sound system came to life and the show could get into high gear (or at least as high gear as a children’s show can get).
With their bright colors, delightful lyrics, and arm-flailing dancing on stage, the children in the audience (and some of the parents) were easily coaxed into joining in, first in the rows and then moving to the aisles for more freeform interpretations of the official choreography. For the entire hour of the full-volume show, kids were bopping and jumping and clapping and looking occasionally dumbfounded all over the theater, with a sea of semi-reluctant to entirely engrossed parents joining in from their seats. There were no lulls in the brilliance of the cast and their supporting dancers and musicians, all of whom were clearly, genuinely loving being on stage and inspiring all the chaotic dancing, and at the end of the show, The Wiggles expressed their gratitude as well as their apologies for the technical troubles.
It could quite truthfully be said that being a children’s entertainer requires far more energy than any other art form, and that it would drain a performer after a while, but The Wiggles clearly have not just the fantastic skills (ballet dancing, singing, so many instruments – including bagpipes!) but also the boundless appetite and enthusiasm for what they do, and it makes being there with them, live on stage, so much more wonderful than just seeing their (equally bright and energetic) TV show.
To reach out to the parents, very short riffs from The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” (on the bass) and Led Zeppelins “Stairway to Heaven” (on the guitar, of course) popped up while the cast and crew were individually introduced to show off their skills toward the end of the show, with the knowing smirks on the faces of all solidifying the sense of camaraderie between those on stage and those sitting with the target audience. Moments like this, peppered through the performances, kept the adults in the room more alert for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot-outs, which elicited laughs, chuckles, and smatters of applause, and certainly helped keep the energy from waning.
True to their promise, a second and third walkabout happened, this time up to the Circle, to sing songs from the heights and collect the many gifts for the cast. All the crafty creations were brought up on stage, with a fourth walkabout to ensure as many of the hand-made offerings as possible were collected. The cast presented or read out many of them for the audience to enjoy, and it became clear that Emma was the favorite (so many yellow bows in the auditorium and in the artwork) with one clever pun written on a giant paper bow with antlers earning a burst of applause and laughter – it was entitled “A Canadian Carribow for Emma”. The interlude of audience interaction led into the final few songs and dances, with the show closing the way it had opened, with huge applause and a lot of excitement.
The talent on show in The Wiggles “It’s Party Time” is worthy of great admiration, the dedication to their art is inspiring, and their humble, happy attitude, even in the face of a really inconveniently timed technical glitch, is nothing short of exemplary. If the Wiggles can command a theater full of hyped-up kids with bright colors, smiling faces, silly dancing, and no PA, they’re definitely something worth seeing again!