Liam Fennecken is ready to rock and roll in the high octane musical, SCHOOL OF ROCK. The singer, songwriter and Penn State grade takes on several roles in the touring hit musical. Based on the 2003 film, the show follows a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher. Before you know it, he has turned his class of straight- A students into a guitar-shredding rock band. The show features all the original songs from the movie and 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Fennecken talks about the tour to Phindie.
School of Rock plays at the Academy of Music March 27-April 1, 2018.
Liam Fennecken: Every day I get to be a member of the ensemble playing a teacher, a parent, a rocker, and a police officer. I also get to understudy Dewey, so I have the privilege of seeing the story unfold from multiple perspectives.
DD: You understudy Dewey, who transforms his class of students into a rock band. How did you get your start in theatre and who you inspired along the way?
LF: I have always been into music; singing in church and choosing to take music in school whenever I could. Organized music always seemed like a chore for me though until I got to Tohickon Middle School. I found there a voice teacher for life in Stephanie Overton, and the man that made me think music is cool, the late Ron LaMar. He really showed me the feeling behind music and changed my life as well as many others. I did theatre in high school as a creative outlet, but I never really thought of it as a career for me until I got to college at Penn State. I went there originally for animal science and started hanging out with the theatre kids and was like “hey, I wanna do that.” So here we are!
DD: How does the dynamic differ when working with a cast of young performers?
LF: Working with these kids is incredible. First of all, every performance is exciting and different because they have so much energy and so much dedication. Secondly they are legitimately inspiring. Whenever the adults have had a long week, rough day, or aren’t just feeling 100% into it, looking at these kids’ genuine excitement to be doing what they are doing makes it impossible to not feel grateful.
DD: If you could trade roles with any cast member for one performance, who would you choose and why?
LF: I would love to see what it’s like to be “Summer.” She is the kid who is normally the stereotypical teacher’s pet and really cares about everything that Dewey does not. She’s also the only person who can really shut Dewey down in the show. So being on the other side of that interaction would be really cool.
DD: Any backstage anecdotes you can share?
LF: There’s always something crazy going on, but I love the little interactions the kids latch on to. For instance, there are three times in the show where I have a very choreographed high five with kids in the cast I pass backstage. If I ever miss it, it throws the kids off. We really have become a big family.
DD: You have ties to our area. What can you tell us about them?
LF: I grew up in Pipersville, just outside of Doylestown and I went to high school at Archbishop Wood. So I’ve spent the majority of my life in the Philly area and I can’t wait to get back and go to Wawa every day!
DD: What is one thing that can always be found in your dressing room?
LF: I have a couple of things that always travel with me. I have a personal steamer that comes in handy if I’m feeling sick or dry. And most importantly, since I work with sixteen 9-13 year olds, I am always fully stocked with airborne and Emergen-C!
[Academy of Music] March 27-April 1, 2018; kimmelcenter.org