The hugely popular Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE!, based on the Emmy Award-winning #1 PBS Kids TV series, has delighted live audiences on stages across the country. Now, on October 15 at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m., families’ favorite characters are hopping on board Trolley to come to Fairfax with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day! The Center invites you to get to know Daniel Tiger’s lead actor, Amanda Lupacchino, in a recent Q&A below.
Give us a brief history of your experience in the arts. What initially drew you to it?
I started taking dance classes when I was 18 months old (in 1992!). Throughout my younger years, I continued to take dance but also took every music class my school had to offer. When I was 11, I saw an audition for the Annie national tour in the newspaper and begged my parents to let me audition, though they didn’t want me to go! Annie had always been a favorite movie of mine so I was very excited just to audition for it and sing “Tomorrow”. I ended up persuading them to take me to the audition and I booked it! That’s when I got bit by the musical theater bug and knew I wanted (and could) do it as a full-time career.
Catch a preview of Lupacchino’s fantastic dance skills in the video below:
What is your favorite memory from touring with this production?
One of my favorite memories was when we had a young girl with cerebral palsy come to the show. It was the first time she saw herself represented up on stage in Chrissie, who wears braces and uses crutches to help stabilize herself. Since then, we have watched this young girl and her mom advocate and build an incredible inclusive community online. They’ve even written a book series called Mighty Miss Maya! I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about Daniel Tiger and the Mister Rogers legacy—there are moments everyone can feel represented.
If you could play any other character in the show, who would you play and why?
I would play Prince Wednesday! Prince Wednesday has a lot of fun, is always up to something, and learns a lot along the way.
What is the most important characteristic for a king to have? Why?
The most important characteristic for a king is kindness, which is what our story is all about. Being kind helps others feel seen, heard, and held, which are things a good leader, like a king, should always help others feel. Kindness is also contagious so by being kind ourselves, we create a kind world all around us.
What elements of Daniel Tiger resonate with all ages? What lessons can we learn?
I think the elements of Daniel Tiger we can all keep in mind are inclusivity and kindness. Learning to include everyone, despite our differences, is such an important lesson for us to learn at a young age and also to be reminded of as we grow older. Moving with kindness throughout our lives is a beautiful way to leave people in good spirits and filled with love.