Brisbane's Heeler Family Wows on Opening Night - 96five Family Radio

Brisbane’s Heeler Family Wows on Opening Night

The Bluey Stage Show has blown minds during the world premiere at QPAC overnight.

By Justin RouillonWednesday 23 Dec 2020CultureReading Time: 3 minutes

Main Image: The Heeler family wrap up opening night in style (Image: Darren Thomas).  Listen: Arthur Muhl chats to yours truly about the Bluey Stage Show experience.

It’s 5:45pm on a Tuesday night and I’ve managed to wrangle my six and four year olds (yep I’ve got the Heeler pair) into their seats at QPAC’s Playhouse for the opening night of the Bluey Stage Show. 

To say they were excited about seeing their favourite talking dogs live on stage was a slight understatement!

In any other year this would be a normal opening night, but in 2020, the premiere of Bluey’s Big Play is an achievement that all Queenslanders can be proud of.  After the season’s cancellation during the shutdowns earlier this year, the Bluey Stage Show is now the first theatrical premiere in the world to take place with a 100% capacity audience.  It’s almost like a celebration that we all got through 2020 together!

And as the lights dim and two bin chickens casually stroll across the stage, the excited hum turns into cries of amazement.  This is theatre – but not as we’re used to – for when the Heeler family take to the stage for their opening routine the house erupts.  Kids are shouting, singing along and clapping to the theme tune while a game of musical statues takes place up on stage.

Image: Darren Thomas.

Bluey and her family have been reimagined as puppets, and it’s this decision that lets the grown-ups in the room really experience the magic of this show.  For after a minute or so you are swept away in the story and the characters that you don’t even notice the puppeteers any more.  The show begins to seep into your imagination and it’s almost like you start watching it with child-like eyes.

Rose Myers is the director of Bluey’s Big Play and told 96five that the puppets had been in development for over a year.

“There’s been a lot of work around how we can make these large puppets who are very true to the characters, not only give us lots of emotion, but also lots of movement because the story and show is very action driven.”

The story, written by Bluey creator Joe Brumm, holds true to the play based format that the Brisbane production is loved for.  We find ourselves in the Heeler house, probably on a Sunday afternoon, as Dad tries to unwind after a morning of playing with the kids.  As any parent knows, rest time is for the weak, and Bluey and Bingo pull out all the stops to get Dad off that beanbag and back playing with them.

There’s a heap of ‘biscuits’ moments, appearances from Janet and Rita in their granny mobile, as well as next door neighbour Lucky’s Dad, who once again gets caught up in Heeler shenanigans!  But it was Chattermax who was the ultimate scene stealer and had every kid literally dancing in their seats.

Chattermax was an audience favourite. Image: Darren Thomas.

And with plenty of musical favourites from Bluey’s composer extraordinaire Joff Bush being featured, there’s a multitude of opportunities to get moving!

Like the hit TV show, there are plenty of games to play and a lesson to be learnt, but it’s the skill and artistry of the puppeteers who bring the Bluey Stage Show to life.  If you can manage to draw your eyes away from the puppets for just a minute or so you’ll witness a beautiful choreography from the puppeteers as they get themselves into position to operate the life size Heelers.

Here come the Grannies….and Lucky’s Dad! Image: Darren Thomas.

The Brisbane season runs until January 10th before beginning a national tour.  At the time of writing there are a limited amount of tickets remaining, but you’ll need to be onto it faster than Rita and Janet in their granny mobile!