Wiggling into kids' group came easy on stage

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Sam Moran slipped into another man's yellow sweater with some trepidation.

The Wiggles  Special
Special
The Wiggles

After all, Greg Page had filled the role of the Yellow Wiggle for more than 15 years and Mr. Moran was to be the first new face in the children's entertainment act since its inception in Australia in the early 1990s.

"I was a little apprehensive," he said in a recent telephone interview. "You don't know how kids will respond. But we believe that if you explain it to kids, they will understand. They take change a lot easier than most adults."

The Wiggles perform Monday at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center.

Mr. Moran had performed as part of the Wiggles cast since 1998. He said the other Wiggles helped him make the transition by encouraging him to make Sam a new Wiggle, not an alternate Greg.

Mr. Moran said that as a musician, adapting to the live shows has been easier than working on the popular television series. He said one thing that is unusual about the live shows and television tapings is that Wiggles never look one another in the eye.

"With children that age, you have to perform a certain way to engage them," he said. "We try to make the children feel like they are involved, that we are talking to them one-on-one, so we are always facing into the audience or into the camera, even when we are talking to each other."

Many of those tricks of the trade come from Anthony Field and Murray Cook, the blue and red Wiggles. Besides being talented musicians and performers, both hold degrees in early childhood education and started the group as an extension of their education.

"The Wiggles was originally just about making great children's music," Mr. Moran said. "We look at this as really just being a preschool teacher. You do the best you can while you have got them."

He admitted that most fans stay faithful to the Wiggles for only a few years. Still, he said the group's longevity has meant that some of the first generation of Wiggle kids are introducing their own children to the group. Mr. Moran said the way the Wiggles gauge whether they are performing up to their own staunch standards is by audience response.

"At the live shows, you get that instant feedback," he said. "Children will not respond if you are not engaging them. They are completely honest. So we know we have had a great show because it is obvious when that audience is having a great time."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

ON STAGE

WHAT: The Kicks 99 Guitar Pull, featuring Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Jo Dee Messina, Van Zant and Bucky Covington.


WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday


WHERE: USC Aiken Convocation Center, 471 University Parkway, Aiken

ONLINE EXTRA

Click here to listen to the Wiggles online.


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