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School of Rock Interview: Theo Mitchell-Penner (Lawrence) and his Mom give us the inside scoop on what it is like to tour (and why you can’t miss this show)!

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The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.

Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit, School of Rock-The Musical, is coming to town! Starting Tuesday September 18th The Wharton Center for Performing Arts will be opening their doors to host this can’t miss show! School of Rock-The Musical is sure to get your feet tapping and your heart pumping as it brings to stage an irresistible energy and entertaining narrative. Watch the hilarity ensue as a failed rock star, a class of straight-A students, and an uptight head mistress discover what it means to truly ROCK!

We had the privilege of interviewing one of the young performers of the show Theo Mitchell-Penner, who plays Lawrence. We also had the honor of interviewing his biggest fan…his mom! See what they have to say about touring together, why this is a show you can not miss, and why the cast is just one big happy family!

Theo Mitchell-Penner

Theo Mitchell-Penner (Lawrence)

What is your favorite, favorite thing about being in School of Rock-The Musical?

I get to perform every night.  I perform 8 shows a week. I feel blessed and grateful to be in this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. 

Would you say you are very similar to the character you play in the show? If so, how are you similar?

Yes, I am like Lawrence because I am a classically trained pianist. In terms of personality, though, I am not like him.  He is really shy and nerdy.   However, I feel there is a little bit of Lawrence in everyone because we all feel shy, insecure and like we don’t fit in sometimes.  

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Theo Mitchell-Penner in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.

What type of relationship do the cast members have off stage? Is everything always cool and fun or do you have some of those “brother-sister” moments where you fight over who gets the best seat on the bus or who gets the last piece of pizza?

We are one big happy family.  Everything isn’t always sunshine and lollipops because we are just kids.   But I can’t think of any time where any of us disliked each other so much we weren’t talking or something.  We’re really like brothers and sisters:  we love each other. 

[Oh my, these kids already have my heart!]

If you could take a trip to outer space and you could choose one person to go with you who would it be and why? What if it had to be a character from School of Rock?

Elton John, the original Rocket Man, of course.   I like his music and all the good he has done. I just saw him in Allentown for the opening night of his farewell tour, and I learned that his foundation has raised $400 million for AIDS/HIV.  

Lawrence would take Tomika because it is his best friend.  I think I would take Dewey. He is fun.  

[You can read more about Elton John Aids Foundation here ]

What is your real-life school situation like while you are touring with the show?

There are tutors who travel with us.  We go to school Tuesday – Saturday.  My mom has been homeschooling me as well.  I go to “Horace Mom”.

Are there any instruments that you ROCK out for real?

I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5.  I was given an electric guitar for my birthday last year, but I wasn’t able to bring it on tour with me.  I am interested in songwriting and conducting too.  

If someone couldn’t make a decision as to whether or not they wanted to see the show, what would you tell them to convince them that it will most certainly ROCK!?

I would tell them that no other musical is as much fun as this one. We kids are playing live every night, and the energy, especially at the end, is incredible.  The show is super super fun.

[This is seriously going to be the BEST show!]

And for the most important questions our young fans want to know….what is your favorite sweet treat?

Oreos, all varieties. 

[Oh yeah! He is a keeper]

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The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.

As a parent I wondered what it was like for Theo’s mom touring with the show. We are really excited we had the opportunity to interview her as well. See what she has to say about it all…

Do you find yourself having to bust out the “mom face” on other cast and crew members often?

 I realize how this is going to sound, but we really are one big touring family.  This is an incredible group of people, and I didn’t expect  to come on tour and make lifelong friends, but I have.  So has Theo. 

What do you do to fill time while you are on tour with the show?

There isn’t much free time on tour, especially since I teach him as well.  We all might go out together.   I also spend time writing. 

[Seriously Super Mom!]

When did you first realize your child had this fantastic talent of performing?  

I knew right away.  Even at 2, Theo was always singing and dancing.  At the supermarket, I would push him around in the cart, and he would sing.  Luckily, strangers would say he had a good voice. Rain or shine, Theo liked to dance around outside with an umbrella, which he inevitably would break. Piano was similar.  He had one of those plastic baby pianos, and he couldn’t keep his fingers off it so we got him an keyboard.  

What is your go-to thing to sip on during the day?

 I drink water.  I might have a coffee or tea first thing. 

Overall, what has this touring experience been like for you as a parent?

I love touring because I am touring with my son.   Who gets to do that?   I am grateful that he was cast as Lawrence, that his dream has come true, and that he and I have become part of the SOR family.  Nothing is better than a happy, fulfilled child and my son is just that.   There is nothing he would rather be doing.  

 I do like when we are in a place for more than one week. When we are, we get a Golden Day, a Monday off, and then he and I get to explore the sights. 

If you’re like my family and you can not wait to see this show check out The Wharton Center for Performing Arts here and get your tickets today. This will definitely be a show where  “FISTS OF ALL AGES SHALL BE PUMPING!” (Vanity Fair), so don’t miss out on your opportunity to release your inner wild child and rock out with the cast of School of Rock-The Musical!

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