A brief chat with Emma Watkins of the Wiggles

Yes, that’s right, we interviewed a Wiggle. Honestly, if you’re offered a Wiggle interview, you really have to grab it. I love my job - in the past week, I've interviewed a Wiggle, Martin Short and Andrew WK. Weird mix, huh? Anyway, Emma Watkins is the first female member of the Australian kids band/gang – she joined two years ago though the band has been together since ’91. This Sunday, the Wiggles will entertain masses of children at the Fox Theatre, part of the “Taking Off” world tour. We’re quite confident that nobody can wiggle quite like a Detroiter, and Watkins is excited to be here.

Obviously, you’re the first ever female Wiggle. How did you hook up with the band?
Well, it’s quite strange because there are three new Wiggles - Simon the red wiggle, Lachlan the purple wiggle and myself. We were already in the company doing different roles. Like, I was the fairy, the ballerina, and that kind of thing originally, and then I played Dorothy the Dinosaur and I was a Wiggles dancer. Simon has been singing backup vocals for 12 years, so he’s been there extensively. We literally just got asked and I had no idea that they were even going to continue. It’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

What can we expect from the show?
Well, I think there’s such a range. There’s a lot of the original stuff that, if you’ve been watching the Wiggles for awhile you know, like “Hot Potato” and “Choo Choo Train.” Obviously, there’s a bit of a change in the sound. There was just one singer but now we’ve got three voices so there’s harmony and that’s a lot different. There are new songs like “There’s a Girl with a Bow in Her Hair,” which is the story of why I wear my bow. It’s like my whole life of wearing bows, in about two minutes. And there are lots of different changes of hair and bows in the song. It’s quite extravagant. We’re bringing Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword, which is super exciting.

Captain Feathersword, huh? What would an adult get out of the show?

I think as a parent, they just actually really enjoy watching their own children. It’s kind of like a full circle. The children are watching us, and they’re jumping and singing and bouncing, and essentially wiggling around. Some of the parents do watch us, but most of the parents literally just watch their children for the entire show because they’re so excited that they’re enjoying themselves. And I think that entirely makes it all happy for everybody, which is a great thing.

What’s it like backstage at a Wiggles show?
Ah, there’s a lot of fruit salad. A lot of water. It’s pretty boring in terms of the food situation, because we’re always trying to be healthy because being a Wiggle is very exciting and fun and happy but you’re doing about two shows a day, six days a week for about two months in North America. We have a cast dinner every now and then. But there’s just literally no time. We’re spending 41 nights on the bus. You do the shows, you get on the bus, you go to sleep, you wake up and you’re in a different place, and then you do it all again.

What’s the most surprising thing about the Wiggles?
Actually, Simon was the Phantom of the Opera in Australia. Anthony would like to be a chiropractor if he wasn’t a Wiggle. And I would like to be a sign-language interpreter if I wasn’t a Wiggle.

The Wiggles will perform the Taking Off show at the Fox Theatre on Sunday, September 22; 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-3200.

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