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The Wiggles, with first woman, come to Long Island

Emma Watkins, 24, is the first female member

Emma Watkins, 24, is the first female member of the two-decade-old preschool music group "The Wiggles." Credit: The Wiggles / Neil Hamilton-Ritchi

When the preschool performance phenomenon "The Wiggles" takes the stage at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury Oct. 4, it'll be the first time kids see a female Wiggle performing on Long Island.

Emma Watkins, 24, is the new Yellow Wiggle in the mega-popular Australian music group, currently on a tour of 38 cities in the United States and Canada. The group -- more than two decades old -- is promoting its new generation of cast members; new CD/DVD, "Taking Off," and new Sprout-TV show, "Ready, Steady, Wiggle."

"The great thing about the show is it's a mixture of the original Wiggles songs like 'Hot Potato' and 'Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga' mixed with all the new stuff like 'Do the Propeller,' which is on the 'Taking Off' album," Watkins said in a phone interview.

The four colorfully dressed Wiggles -- new Red Wiggle Simon Pryce, new Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie, Yellow Wiggle Watkins and the lone holdout from the original ensemble, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field -- will be joined onstage by their sidekick characters, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and friendly pirate Captain Feathersword. Watkins played characters such as Wags for a couple of years before donning her Yellow Shirt and the signature big yellow bow in her hair.

Watkins chatted with Newsday about being the first female Wiggle.


What was your reaction when they asked you to be promoted to Wiggle?

I thought it was a practical joke. "Don't be silly. Really?" It was just the best thing that I ever heard. I watched the Wiggles when I was little, too, and it didn't seem to be an opportunity that I would ever have.


How is it different being a Wiggle instead playing one of the other characters?
Being a Wiggle is a role where you really essentially get to play yourself. So it's nice that the children start to learn your name. We have so many children yelling things out during the show, a song request or a question, and you never know what they're going to be. We're always changing the show up and improvising on stage and that's something that's really fun.


What's it like to be the first female Wiggle?
That's been an incredibly exciting thing for me. I think we're all role models. Originally when the group started, I know that Anthony, the Blue Wiggle, he said that if they had known it was going to be such a big phenomenon, they probably would have had a girl a bit earlier.


Do you have a favorite song?
My favorite song at the moment is "Emma (With the Bow in Her Hair)," which is off of the "Taking Off" album. It describes why I wear the bow. We're doing it in the show live at the moment. I put on all these funny red wigs with lots of different color bows in them and in the end I end up with my yellow bow, which is quite nice. In the song it says, "One day we went walking on a windy day. Emma's hair went crazy so she needed hair spray. To save the environment she went the other way, and that's why she wears a bow to this day."


We've heard that kids give you bows at performances, and you've been quoted saying you have so many now you need another room in your house just to store them.
Some of them are so beautiful. One family made a sign that was in the shape of a bow and it went on a very, very big extendible pole, and it had flashing lights on it, it was so high-tech.


And children also come to concerts dressed as you?
A lot of the children come dressed as their favorite Wiggle. We've seen a lot of children come dressed in yellow with big yellow bows in their hair and yellow bows on their shoes. A little boy at the concert the other day, he wore a yellow bow tie. Yesterday at the show in St. Louis, a little boy had made a sign: "Marry me, Emma."


The Wiggles

WHEN | WHERE 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.

INFO $29.50 and $19.50; 800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com

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