Oink! Q&A with Former TV News Anchor Now Daddy Pig in 'Peppa Pig Live'

Photo: Courtesy "Peppa Pig"
"Peppa Pig" and her friends are in town for a performance Sunday in Minneapolis.

November 09, 2017 03:47 PM

Evan Michael Pinsonnault is a former anchor who landed the most fun job imaginable, other than Santa Claus himself. We had a chance to speak with him about his role as Daddy Pig and Danny Dog in the upcoming performance of "Peppa Pig Live, Peppa Pig’s Surprise" this Sunday at Northrup Auditorium in Minneapolis.

Pinsonnault graduated from George Washington University with degrees in political science and theater before getting his masters in broadcasting and communication from Syracuse’s Newhouse School. Evan’s on-air career started in upstate New York and continued in Washington, D.C., where he was a Capitol Hill correspondent for local affiliates.

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In 2006, he moved to Macon, Georgia, and worked as a reporter, sports anchor and weekend anchor at WMAZ. His last stop was in Lansing, Michigan, at WLNS where he was the morning anchor for almost six years, signing off in 2015.

When and how did you decide to say goodbye to TV news and become an onstage performer?

My fiance Rebecca was offered a job in LA and it was the end of my contract in Lansing, Michigan, so it kind of worked out. I’ve always had a love for theater, so this career wasn’t totally out of the blue. Moving to LA was scary in the best way possible. I started out doing some voiceover work and one day went on an audition knowing nothing about this incredibly popular children’s show called "Peppa Pig." There I was oinking in different emotions. I got a call back and couldn’t be more oink-cited to be here.

How do you prepare for your roles as Daddy Pig and Danny Dog?

I’ve been in this role for almost two years. Prepping was so different than anything I was used to because my characters are life-sized puppets. I had to learn choreography and puppeteering and watched lots of episodes of "Peppa Pig."

"Peppa Pig Live" has combination of two unique puppeteering styles. The puppets of Peppa and her friends are all sized to scale as a preschooler would be in height, so they’re between 2- and 3-feet tall. As performers mom and dad will see that Evan is behind Danny Dog and standing up to move his left hand with his head and his right hand moves his body. For so much of the show, we choreograph it so we are up to do all the dances, and then we’re ducked down behind the puppets to talk, interact and wave to the kids.

The suited characters also add another element and gives you a great visual that feels like, "Wow I’m watching an episode of the show, but they’re right there in front of me."

Evan also shared this fun fact: Daddy Pig is nearly 7-feet tall and inside there is a lever-pulley system to operate the arms and the mouth, it’s almost like holding a bike brake and gear shifter. Both of your hands and your upper body are always in control of something. The feet are my own which makes choreography interesting. Just imagine never being able to see where you are! In the snout of the suit is a Go-Pro attached in the nostril, and that is how Evan is able to see the other characters. If it goes out, there’s a special foot signal to help crew know Daddy Pig’s camera went out!

What is it like performing in front of a live audience vs in a TV studio behind a camera with just the camera crew and fellow news anchors?

To be able to see the audience in this show is so important. It’s encouraging partly because you feed off of that energy, not to say that you can’t do the same thing when you’re at the anchor desk or when you’re looking on camera. There’s something about a room of thousands of kids and families that are at the pinnacle of excitement or as we say in the show, oink-citement, and it translates. As a performer, you feel that; and if that wasn’t there, it could be very hard sometimes to make the moves as crisp as you want them to, especially in the suit. But when you have that encouragement and that energy you ride that wave. It carries over from scene to scene. Ten minutes after the show, it carries on, and you can hear the crowd screaming in excitement.

What can the audience expect in Peppa Pig’s Surprise?

If you’re a parent or grandparent who has never done anything like this before, this is the perfect introduction to live theater for kids of any age because of how infectious the show becomes. You don’t just watch it; you go along the journey with us. It’s so interactive, and this is what kids love to do: They love to play. It’s not like you have to sit in your seat and behave, those noises aren’t going to annoy traditional theater-goers.

Pinsonnault dives into a British accent, “Don’t crinkle your paper. Oh humbug.” Laughs.

We encourage the kids to jump up and down, to shake it out in the aisles, to come up to the stage at times; and we ask the mom and dad to help them do that. "Help us find Mr. Dinosaur, let’s all find him together. Everybody put your hands up." That to me that is what you want as a family, as friends, as people coming together in the community, you want to be involved in the experience and to take it with you after you go. This is a show that allows you to do both. For someone who is not familiar with the show or the characters, that’s OK because of how involved you become even if you’re not familiar with Peppa Pig. The characters are relatable and loveable.

What was your favorite cartoon growing up?

Laughs. I was really into "Scooby Doo" as a kid. I loved the mystery of every episode. Honestly, you may even hear Scooby Doo influence in my Danny Dog.

Favorite city, anywhere in the world?

I love Rome. It might have something to do with Italian romanticism, or that I took Latin for four years, or the bottles of nice red wine that I enjoy. Along this tour, we have visited 220 cities, 47 states and have performed over 250 shows. I was tickled pink, both literally and figuratively in Savannah, Georgia. Maybe it was because of the soldout show we had there or the ghost tour we went on that kept me up all night. Kidding aside, I wasn’t expecting to love this city. There’s such rich history everywhere you look. It’s almost as if the cobblestones are talking to you. We were in awe.

Peppa Pig Live is geared for kids ages 2-7 but open to older siblings who might have watched Peppa when they were younger. Tickets are still available here. The show starts at 2 p.m. at Northrup Auditorium.

Credits

Sarina Long

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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