Inside ‘Bluey’s’ big stage tour: The team talks adapting the kids TV sensation

Puppeteers perform "Bluey's Big Play"
“Bluey’s Big Play” is touring the U.S. with a stop at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
(Darren Thomas)

When a 52-foot-tall balloon of the beloved kids’ TV character Bluey soared down 6th Avenue as a part of last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — alongside the likes of Boss Baby, Baby Yoda and Pikachu — it was clear that the eponymous show had literally and figuratively hit the big time.

Although parents of young children already knew that. Since the Australian show — now in its third season — reached American audiences on Disney+ in early 2020, parents have waked in the night with the melodica-driven theme song on hyperloop in their heads. They have spent months tripping over the “Bluey” playhouse or stepping on its action figures — one of four blue heeler dogs that comprise the show’s anthropomorphic family: a father named Bandit, a mother named Chilli and their two small daughters, 6-year-old Bluey and her younger sister, Bingo.

It will come as no surprise to these parents that the show has been made into a play currently on tour in the United States, with six performances at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood from Jan. 27 through Jan. 29, and two at Segerstom Center for the Arts on Feb. 23. After all, “Bluey” has come to dominate their households in the all-consuming way that only zeitgeisty children’s fare can. (Think “Let it Go” from “Frozen” — wait, don’t! You’ll never get it out of your head!)


The Times toured the Brisbane, Australia, studio where ‘Bluey’ comes together to understand what goes into making the best children’s show on TV.

Aug. 8, 2022

The happy news is that “Bluey” is TV that parents can gladly watch beside their children. The stage show, titled, “Bluey’s Big Play,” promises to bring the same secret sauce to the live experience — maybe more so. Each episode of “Bluey” runs about 7 or 8 minutes long, but the live experience stretches the formula to 45 minutes. Just like the show, the play is written by creator Joe Brumm, who has harnessed the beautiful and frustrating messiness of family life in a tender way that makes kids laugh and learn at the same time.

“It’s about a family that loves each other. It reminds you of how funny and weird kids are and how hard but rewarding parenting them is,” Brumm writes via email. “It comes from a very real place. It’s just my life with my kids, in dog form.”

A scene from "Bluey's Big Play," which is currently on a U.S. tour.
(Darren Thomas)

The magic of the stage show comes from the close proximity of young fans to the larger-than-life puppets used to portray their fictional heroes, says the play’s director, Rosemary Myers, who is also the artistic director of the Adelaide-based Windmill Theatre Company.

“Kids walk into the theater, and they sit down and they think we’re in a room with Bluey,” Myers says in a Zoom conversation from Australia. “And that’s a big moment for them.”

The stage show was originally scheduled to premiere in Australia in May 2020, but like live shows across the globe — it got waylaid by the pandemic. When the curtain finally rose on its first performance at the end of 2020, many parents and kids were eager to get outside and have some fun, says Myers. Plus, many families had watched plenty of “Bluey” during lockdown. The show was an instant success, she added, with whole families showing up dressed as their favorite characters.


The original vision for the show featured some special interactive features, but COVID-19 protocols prevented those from being realized. By the time the show landed at Madison Square Garden in November, however, the interactive aspect was back. Children, says Myers, are overjoyed at the opportunity to play “Keepy-Uppy” with Bluey — a game featured in a beloved Season 1 episode where the Heeler family tries to keep a balloon from touching the floor. In the play, the balloons are bandied about in the audience and back to the stage.

The action of the live show takes place over a single day throughout the Heeler household—with the rooms of the Brisbane-based home lovingly recreated. Two-to-three puppeteers wrangle the puppets. These enthusiastic handlers, dancers and actors have a blast performing, says Myers.

“You feel like a bit of a rock star doing the show,” she laughs, referring to how enthusiastic the young audience can get.

A scene from "Bluey's Big Play," currently on tour in the U.S.
(Darren Thomas)

An early decision was made to use the show’s actors to prerecord the dialogue — not typical practice for a live show using puppets. At first Myers was skeptical, but Brumm felt strongly about the issue, and now Myers says she couldn’t imagine it any other way.

“I wanted some anchor of familiarity for the audience,” Brumm writes. “The argument is you lose that live feeling with pre-records, which is a decent one. But the average ‘Bluey’ fan watches the show fairly thoroughly, so I thought it would be too jarring to have it any other way.”


The voices are incredibly specific, says Myers, and they serve as a direct connection to fans’ love of the show. As does the music for the live show, which is also prerecorded and was scored by the show’s composer, Joff Bush.

Just like the TV show, the live show’s story is simple, but meaningful, with subtly profound learning moments baked in for kids and parents alike, says Myers. Brumm has a knack for writing about the ways love and respect can sustain families, especially when it comes to depicting the power of imagination and play in their many varied forms.

He was once told that a Disney executive said “Bluey” was the kind of show Walt Disney would have made if he were still around.

“Doesn’t get much better than that for a compliment,” writes Brumm.

‘Bluey’s Big Play’

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa
When: 10 a.m., 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.
Cost: Starting at $60
Running time: 55 minutes with no intermission.

‘Bluey's Big Play’

Where: Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.
When: 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $39 - $149
Running time: 55 minutes with no intermission.