Ashleigh Prince spoke with Erik Gosnell from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood about his career, the show and the history of Daniel Tiger. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Ashleigh: Hello everyone, and welcome back to another exciting episode of Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. Today, we’re taking a journey into “the land of make-believe” and we’re checking in with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live. We’re here with Erik Gosnell. Hi, Erik!
Erik: Hi, how’s it going?
Ashleigh: It’s going really well. We cannot wait to have Daniel Tiger in our neighborhood on May 10. I’m so excited to have you on today, welcome!
Erik: Thank you so much for having me.
Ashleigh: First, let’s introduce you to our audiences and let’s talk a little bit about how you found yourself in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
Erik: Absolutely! I’m Erik Gosnell, I live in New York now and I’m originally from Nebraska, so it was a pretty big shift. I found myself doing Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood through a friend of mine that had done the production many years ago. I got to meet a lot of the team through the years, so when the time finally came for me to audition, I was able to get cast as Prince Wednesday. It’s been it’s been a wild ride. That was 2017 or 2018, and I think we opened at The Hanover Theatre that year. I am really excited to return. I was also a part of this tour again in 2020. Obviously, we got shut down because of the pandemic, so it’s just really exciting to be back in the world, back in the neighborhood, spreading kindness across the states as we’re finally getting to finish this tour.
Ashleigh: Of course! I was looking at your bio earlier and I saw that you played Prince Wednesday, Dad Tiger, Mr. McFeely and others. Would you say that Prince Wednesday is your favorite, or is it too hard to pick a favorite?
Erik: Prince Wednesday is probably the closest to my personality and just how I am. Dad Tiger is fun just because I get to get into a bigger costume and work with puppets and things like that, so that’s a unique experience and I do love that. I like playing Mr. McFeely because there’s the nostalgic feeling for the adults in the audience as well. The kids know Mr. McFeely as well, but I think the parents who grew up with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, they’re really excited to see Mr. McFeely come through because they know who he is. I try to do him justice. I have some other like little parts here and there, but I’d say putting on the crown is definitely my favorite part of the show.
Ashleigh: Yeah! I’ve heard a little bit of feedback from some people in our audiences that didn’t know about the connection between Daniel Tiger and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. They’re like, “Oh my goodness, how did I not know this? This is amazing.” I think it’s really exciting for us as adults to come back to the land of make believe and have fun with Daniel again, after so many years.
Erik: Yeah, it’s really exciting to do the show. We do have the characters that they’ll recognize. As soon as King Friday comes in, I think that really makes [the audience] realize, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve definitely been in this world before.” A lot of the like set pieces and our backdrop have the castle, you see the tree and treehouse. It’s really cool be on tour, as well. When people ask us what we’re doing and why we’re here and we say Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, not everybody knows that right away. As soon as you say, “Well, do you know Mr. Rogers?” it’s like a lightbulb. Everyone’s excited and want to know so much more. It’s really cool to connect with people that way.
Ashleigh: Of course. I’m going to have to dust off my favorite cardigan for the show to bring back all those good feelings. For people who are not familiar with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, who aren’t obsessed like my cousins are, tell our audiences a little bit about the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and what we can expect to see in the show.
Erik: Sure! Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is connected to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and it’s sort of like a second generation. Now, it’s a completely animated TV show on PBS. We are bringing the live show to all the theaters across the country. What you can expect in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is, of course, a lot of songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. You’re also going to hear a lot of songs from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that you’ll recognize, plus a whole other assortment of original music just for our live show. You’re going to see a lot of a lot of dancing and a lot of audience interaction, too.
There’s a ton of times that Daniel is speaking right to the audience members to get them to talk with us and join in with us, even more-so than any other type of show. If you find yourself at Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, make sure you shout and sing along with us because that’s exactly what we want.Erik Gosnell
Ashleigh: Absolutely. I work on all of our social media, and the costumes are just so sweet. I can’t wait to have it in our theatre and on our main stage. We have special Meet and Greet packages for anyone that would like to come and meet Daniel and friends. If you’re looking for tickets for you and your little ones, tickets are available at TheHanoverTheatre.org. Tickets start at just $29, so I don’t think I could pass up a wonderful day with Daniel.
Erik: Exactly. Very affordable, very fun. You won’t want to miss it.
Ashleigh: We’re partnering with a bunch of libraries and daycares in the area, and some locations are even doing a coloring contest to win tickets to the show. We do fun giveaways sometimes on our socials, so there are always opportunities to win great experiences here at The Hanover Theatre.
Ashleigh: Of course! Now, let’s bring it back to you. Let’s talk a little bit about how you found yourself in theatre in the first place.
Erik: I definitely started in high school. As a kid, I always knew I wanted to perform. I wanted to make people laugh, sing and dance, but growing up in Nebraska, I wasn’t exactly sure where I would go to do that. Once I got into high school, I did a couple musicals and that was a first experience for me. I did The Sound of Music and some classics like that to get me started, which opened the door for me. I went to college in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Nebraska Wesleyan Theatre, and did a bunch of shows, got a ton of experience and met a lot of really great people. That sort of pushed me then to move to New York City and I’ve had a lot of experiences there.
Erik: I’ve done a lot of touring actually, and that’s kind of where my where my bread and butter is right now, doing lots of national tours, which is great. It’s kind of funny to move to New York City to get out of New York City a bunch of times, but the little break always helps and it always makes it fun to come back home. I’ve just been auditioning and now I’m back here working with Mills Entertainment and working on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Like I said, in the past we were at The Hanover Theatre and I was a part of the show King For A Day. This show is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! Neighbor Day, so it’s a different show and it’ll be a different experience. It’s been a whirlwind just because of 2020, the pandemic happening, coming back, adding new people and reconnecting with some older people. This show is probably one of the best productions we’ve sent out, for sure.
Ashleigh: That’s so amazing. It’s so exciting that you get to come back after being here a few years ago. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun.
Erik: Yeah, for sure.
Ashleigh: What would you say is your favorite number in the show? What should we look out for?
Erik: My favorite parts in the show are when we’re when in-show, the audience is there, and the kids are up and running around the aisles, which is really fun because it gets them really pumped up. We do the “High-Five Happy Dance for Joy,” one of the original songs in the show. It’s a lot of dancing, a lot of singing and a lot of fun. Not only are we doing this big number, but then we get to look out in the audience and try to get them to high-five with us. That song will get stuck in your head every day. Any time you listen to it, you’ll wake up with that in your head once you see the show. The “High-Five” ends both of our acts, so I think that’s the really fun one.
Ashleigh: Everyone listening today, get ready to hop aboard Trolley and join Daniel, O the Owl, Prince Wednesday and more familiar friends at Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on May 10 at 6:30 PM. Great tickets are still available at TheHanoverTheatre.org. Before we end for the day, Erik, do you have any parting words for audiences?
Erik: I just want to say, don’t forget to check out our Meet and Greets and get those tickets too, because it’s really fun to come meet Daniel and one of the friends after the show. We’re going to be excited to see you.