A guaranteed Hoot for little folk

Jimmy Giggle is bringing his owl friends to Canberra, Ron Cerabona writes

Jimmy Giggle, Hoot the Owl and their best owl pal Hootabelle are coming to the Canberra Theatre Centre in January for their first live stage show, Giggle and Hoot and Friends. They will be joined on stage by B1 and B2, aka Bananas In Pyjamas, and Sportacus and Stephanie from LazyTown.

Adapted from the ABC4Kids top-rating programs, the show will feature favourite songs, lots of dancing and colourful costumes.

Jimmy Rees, 25, who plays Jimmy Giggle, says this will be his first time in Canberra performing (he's visited a couple of times for meet-and-greets at shopping centres) and he's looking forward to it.

''It will be a lot of fun,'' he says.

It will also be a change from the hectic schedule of shooting the show - he lives on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and travels up to Sydney two days a week - which he's undertaken since he was cast in 2009.

''I was doing an arts media degree at Deakin University,'' he says, ''and I decided that I wanted to earn a bit of money.''


He sent in an audition disc to ABC3 for its Me On 3 program and was chosen out of more than 5000 applicants. He still hasn't gone back to finish his degree.

''I've got 10 years to go back,'' he says. ''I want to finish it but I'm too busy.''

Rees is looking forward to the interactive element of a live theatre audience. ''I love kids, always have,'' he says. ''They're really great fun, a funny audience.''

And if they're bored or unhappy, they're not afraid to show it. Which is why the live show runs a tight 50 minutes with plenty of characters and action and audience involvement to keep them entertained.

Also in the audience may be some of the mothers who apparently find Jimmy Giggle a bit of all right and discuss this on social media. It's something he finds amusing - and so does Tori, the primary school teacher he will marry next year.

''The people at work and my fiancee keep pushing me towards Facebook sites about this,'' he says. ''It's part of the job.''

Nice work if you can get it, as the saying goes. But so far, nobody has thrown their underwear at him and it is not something he would encourage.

''That would be inappropriate,'' Rees says.

He says that as the host of a children's show he is mindful of the need to be a role model, as with other children's entertainers such as the Wiggles.

''There's a lot of responsibility with kids to act in an appropriate manner,'' he says.

Not that there's any whiff of scandal about Rees. Apart from his duties on and publicising the show, he likes writing and playing music - he taught himself to play his father's guitar as a teenager - and performing on stage.

He began acting as a student at The Peninsula School in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Fame and Cabaret.

And early next year he will play the Scarecrow in a pro-am production of The Wizard of Oz in Parramatta with one of his colleagues from Giggle and Hoot as the Tin Man.

Rees says he is happy to make the most of playing Jimmy Giggle for as long as it lasts but some time in the future he says he wouldn't mind hosting a talk show like Rove McManus or Shaun Micallef. Music is also something that interests him.

But all this - and finishing that degree - are all at some unspecified time to come as Jimmy Giggle is still keeping him very busy.

Giggle and Hoot and Friends is on at the Canberra Theatre Centre on January 23 at 4pm and January 24 at 10am and noon. Tickets: A Reserve $44.90 B Reserve $34.90. Bookings: 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au