He's king of the neighborhood: Daniel Tiger leaps from screen to stage


It always turns out to be a beautiful day in the neighborhood when Daniel Tiger and his friends welcome families into their world. The latest stage show, based on PBS’s acclaimed long running hit series “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” arrives at Tilles Center on Oct. 14.

For those who may need a refresher, the pint-sized tiger in the familiar red sweater is actually the “son” of the original Daniel the Tiger who appeared on the beloved “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.”

In this modern makeover, Daniel and his friends are involved in a new adventure in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where Daniel learns just what it takes to be king. New songs, a lively story, and surprise guests captivate the preschool set as Daniel finds out there’s more to being king than being powerful. In this tale, goodness and friendship rule the day.

“Our story is all about kindness, and we need that now more than ever — especially after the last three years,” says Amanda Lupacchino, who commands the show as Daniel. “This is a wonderful honor to Mister Rogers, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

“Fred Rogers left behind a legacy that’s incomparable. One of inclusivity, kindness, love and collaboration.”

  Lupacchino, 32, caught on to Mister Rogers as a child. Dancing and performing since she’s been young, she’s come full circle now.

“I truly feel the connection,” she says. Based in New York City, she’s been charming audiences as Daniel since she joined the show in December 2018.

The stage production, along with the PBS series, certainly resonates with families, just as the original Mister Rogers did for so many parents now sharing the “neighborhood” with their kids. Many of the same (or similar) characters — including King Friday, O the Owl (X the Owl’s “nephew”) Mr. McFeely — and songs continue to delight.

“Anyone who watched Mister Rogers as a kid will feel right at home,” Lupacchino says. “Yet, it’s also thoroughly modern for today’s generation. In this tale, the audience follows along with Daniel and his friends through a school day, their lessons, and different activities.”

It ends with a “school performance” with all the characters — What Lupacchino describes as her favorite moment.

“Daniel and his classmates put on a ‘play within a play.’ It takes pieces of their journey and brings everything together in a way that’s joyous and meaningful. I walk away with a lot of joy.”

In fact, more than joy. Her character’s relationship with her young audience brings her to tears.

“I love experiencing it all with the kids. At the end of every show, I‘m crying. The kids sing with me and blow me kisses. I just live for that. My connection with them all is truly special.”

From the moment everyone hears “Do you want to make-believe with me?” you know you’ve arrived in that special Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

“Expect a lot of singing and dancing, and interactive moments with all the characters,” Lupacchino says. “Plus you’ll leave in good spirits — and filled with love.”