Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Kids, Theatre & Performance.

When Jimmy Rees auditioned for the newly launched children’s channel, ABC3, several years ago, he never imagined how it would define his life and catapult his career. The ripe 22-year-old was working in a pub but dreaming of bigger things:

“I knew that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an entertainer in some form, and television was something I really wanted to get in to, I just wasn’t sure how to do it.”

Luck and natural talent solved that problem for him, and pretty soon the inexperienced actor was doing on the job training as co-host of the soon-to-be uber popular Giggle And Hoot. As the only “live actor” on the show, one of his initial challenges was talking to puppets.

“It definitely takes getting used to,” he laughs. Now, however, he easily sees his hand-sewn co-cast of characters the way his young audience sees them – as friends.

Since becoming phenomenally successful, the show has regularly been toured in themed live presentations. This year, Giggle & Hoot’s Magical Christmas will travel along the east coast. It will feature songs, a fun storyline and all the usual characters: Jimmy Giggle, Hoot, Hootabelle, Gigglefangs, Pirate Hootbeard, plus… Hootoclaws and his dancing Elves.

Rees loves the energy and spontaneity of live shows, with all its vulnerabilities: “Things go wrong and we’ll entertain our way out of it.”

He especially likes the interaction and immediacy of response, saying “the best part of it is seeing those reactions”.

Those reactions don’t only come from the kids. Rees is a little coy about admitting how popular he is with mums, but did share the story of one woman who wrote her name and number on a piece of paper and unwittingly asked Rees’ wife, who was handing out fan cards, to pass it on to him. At least he’s not lying when he says “everyone will have a great time if they come along!” (RB)

Dec 17, 11am + 1pm. The Seymour Centre, cnr City Rd & Cleveland St, Chippendale. $25-$34.90. Tickets & info: www.abc.net.au/abcevents or www.seymourcentre.com

Also playing Dec 15 at Riversie Theatres, Parramatta + Dec 16 at Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith.

BY RITA BRATOVICH