Bluey’s Big Play brings children’s TV show to Saskatoon stage

Photo by Darren Thomas/submitted by Grand Communications. The touring cast of Bluey's Big Play brings the acclaimed Australian children's television show to life on stage.

“Kids come to the show and they feel like they’re actually in the room with Bluey,” said director Rosemary Myers.

Julia Peterson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Acclaimed children’s television series Bluey is coming to Saskatoon, and bringing beloved characters to life on stage in Bluey’s Big Play.

First broadcast in 2018, it follows a family of Blue Heeler dogs — energetic six-year-old Bluey, her little sister Bingo, parents Bandit and Chilli, and all their friends and relatives.

 “It’s a show that just speaks to families, and speaks to young people, and it speaks about the joy of family life and the simple things that sometimes you forget to appreciate because we’re all busy and running around and there’s lots of things to distract us,” said Bluey’s Big Play director Rosemary Myers.

“But it reminds us of the fundamental joy of family and childhood (and) taking the time to play with your kids.”

Since 2021, Bluey’s Big Play has been on tour across Australia, the U.K. and North America.

“Something that has been really unique for me, as the director of the show, is to see how the audience itself becomes an element of the show,” said Myers. “People come in and they’re dressed up. The little kids bring their Bluey dolls to watch the show with them. …There’s quite a bit of participation, including a giant Keepy Uppy game, which is pretty memorable.”

Sharing Bluey with children from all around the world has been “a really great joyous thing,” Myers said.

“In Australia, we have a lot of amazing Canadian children’s television — there’s a lot of incredible children’s television out of Canada, and we obviously also consume a lot of American culture,” she said. “It’s pervasive. You can’t avoid it in the English-speaking world, really, so we hear our kids speaking and playing in American accents.”

But with Bluey’s international popularity, Myers said she is now hearing a different story: some American and Canadian parents say their kids are so enamoured by the show that they’re speaking in Australian accents.

“That’s a bit of a badge of pride for us, really.”

To bring Bluey and her family to the stage, show creator Joe Brumm had to make some changes; in particular, while most of the TV show episodes are around seven minutes long, the show is 50 minutes.

The characters are portrayed by big puppets — which lets the creative team “really milk the theatrical nature of the show,” Myers said, including moments when puppet characters play with shadow puppets, to create “a very magical experience” for young audience members.

Myers said Bluey’s biggest fans will recognize everything they love most about their favourite animated cattle dogs on stage — from familiar songs and games to the show’s educational elements and universal themes.

“Any kind of learning that the young characters are going through, (there is) something that mirrors that with the adult characters,” said Myers. “It’s a show that moves fast enough to keep the really little kids engaged, but also has a deeper meaning (when) it reflects on the idea of sisters and the relationship between Bingo and Bluey.”

Saskatoon in December may feel far away from Australia — even an animated version of the continent — but Myers said families who come to the show can expect a warm, welcoming, resonant experience.

“Kids come to the show and they feel like they’re actually in the room with Bluey,” she said. “And I also think adults feel like they’ve taken their kids to a very genuine theatrical experience.” The cast of Bluey’s Big Play will perform at TCU Place on Friday, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.