For 6 years Stevie Nicholson (pictured on the far left) has been touring the world from Malaysia to The Philippines plus all over his native Australia, singing, dancing and donning rainbow-coloured getups for children’s entertainment band Hi-5. He spends about half the year travelling with Hi-5 and acting as an ambassador for World Vision. He tells suitcases&strollers about performing for non-English-speaking audiences, his love of road trips and the popularity of Elvis in Cambodia.
How frequently do you travel for personal pleasure?
Any opportunity we have away from Hi-5ing, you will likely find me at an airport ready to head to another country. I love travelling as it really gives you perspective on how big the world is and it's great to get out of your own comfort zone.
Where is the most unusual destination you've travelled to?
We travelled to Cambodia with World Vision in 2012 and it was truly a remarkable experience. What I loved about it is that it is relatively untouched by the Western world. A highlight was telling our driver that he looked like Elvis. He laughed and then paused and asked us, "Who's Elvis?"
It's a country that was ravaged by a civil war and has so many stories to tell. If you are after an adventure it really is a great place to experience.
Where is the most surprising destination you've travelled to?
I spent some time in Majorca which is a small island off the coast of Spain. I really didn't know too much about the place other than that it was where the tennis player Rafael Nadal grew up. It was a magic mix of lovely coastlines and friendly people.
Where is the one place in the world you wish you could travel to that you haven't been?
I know it's an extremely popular destination but I would love to travel to New York. I think I would embrace all that appears to be wonderful about it. I would go to an NBA game, I would go see a show on Broadway, I'd eat a hotdog while watching a Yankees baseball game. Every one of my friends that has gone to NYC has raved about it so it's next on my travel list.
Where is your favourite place to tour and why?
I love touring to Singapore. We have a loyal fan base there and we have so many friends that we have made over the years. Singapore really is a melting pot of culture and food which makes every meal an adventure. I love spending dinners at the local hawker markets with the gang. Lots of food and lots of laughs!
In which country are your audiences the friendliest?
One thing I've learnt in my time with Hi-5 is that children, no matter where in the world they are from or how rich or poor they are, just want to have fun. I've been fortunate enough to meet thousands of very special kids in hospital wards and in our work with World Vision and it's truly been the most rewarding part of being in Hi-5.
What about in non-English-speaking countries? Don’t you have difficulty connecting with the audience?
Even when we are touring to regions where English is not the dominant language, I've been amazed at how children and families connect with the music. It's a credit to our composer who has been writing for Hi-5 since it started in 1998. We also take a lot of care when we develop the dance moves for our songs in making sure they are accessible for children and it blows me away to see children (and the odd mum or dad) joining in to a rendition of “L.O.V.E.” in all the countries we have travelled to.
Do you get recognised by children (or parents) when you travel outside Australia?
Yes it's quite a bizarre feeling being in an airport in a foreign country and being stopped for photos by the airline crew and then by kids and parents as we are waiting for our luggage. Particularly in Asia, it would be quite rare for us to be having a meal and not be asked for an autograph or a photo or hug.
If there was one place in the world you could go and tour that you haven't been, where would you choose and why?
I'd love to be able tour with Hi-5 through Europe. There are so many amazing countries that are so close to each other but extremely diverse. I'd love to be able to walk out on to a stage in Paris…"Bonjour Kids!"
Do you think it is important for children to travel?
Yes I think travel should be an important part of every child’s education. I think it gives a child a truly hands-on idea of just how big the world is and where they sit in it. They are able to see, feel and taste different cultures which I think all adds up to them growing up to be fully rounded and open human beings.
What are your top 3 recommendations for places that families should visit?
I recently visited Disneyland in Los Angeles, USA and it was honestly the most amazing trip ever. I can imagine that it would be a very special experience for a family to go to together. From the moment you get there it's all about unleashing the power of everyone’s inner child and I was totally captivated by it.
I think it's also important for a child to know where their family heritage is from. My background is Greek Cypriot so my father made sure that we travelled to Cyprus together. I really loved meeting the family that I had overseas and learning about the history of my relations. I think every family should trace the family tree and share the experience together.
Whilst the world is a magical place to travel, some of my favourite childhood memories are of family holidays where we literally packed a tent, some sleeping bags, our bathers and some fishing rods and just drove around Australia until we found somewhere fun to stop. There is something special about just driving and seeing where you finish up at the end of the day. Australia has so many of these lovely world-class spots like Byron Bay, Torquay, and literally all around our magnificent coastline.
To read the suitcases&strollers interview with Hi-5's Dayen Zheng click here