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January 28, 2013

SUNY Oneonta alum returns for show with Broadway credentials

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — A SUNY Oneonta alumnus will bring a little bit of Broadway to his alma mater for this weekend’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore.”

The Apollo Music Club at SUNY Oneonta will present the show at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Hunt College Union Ballroom. Joining the 22 students on stage will be New York City-based musical theater actor, playwright and songwriter Omri Schein, a 2002 graduate of the college’s theater department.

Voice teacher and production director Colby Thomas of the SUNY Oneonta Music Department called Schein’s involvement in the show “the icing on the cake.” 

“The students are benefiting enormously from working with such a professional actor,” Thomas said in a media release. “The challenge for all of us is to not laugh when Omri is on stage, which is extremely difficult! As the saying goes, ‘Dying is easy ... comedy is hard,’ but you wouldn’t know that from watching Omri.”

After graduating from SUNY Oneonta, Schein went on to earn a master’s degree in musical theater at San Diego State University. A character actor specializing in comic roles, he has performed most recently as Benjamin Cohen in Steve Martin’s adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s “The Underpants” at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, and as Eugene in a European tour of “Grease.” He is also co-founder and director of The Contemporary Traditionalists, a company focused on developing new musicals; his original play, “Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist,” won an award for Best Musical at the 2012 West Village Musical Theatre Festival.

Schein has been on campus for three weeks as an artist-in-residence, working with students on “H.M.S. Pinafore” and rehearsing for his guest artist role as Sir Joseph Porter. 

Thomas, a 1984 SUNY Oneonta graduate whose professional credits include a nine-year stint as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” at the Neue Flora Theater in Hamburg, Germany, said working with Schein in a show that holds special significance has been extremely rewarding. 

“This will be the ninth production I have directed here at the college, and Gilbert and Sullivan is like coming home,” she said. “One of my first jobs as a singer in New York was a three-year stint with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.

“We are so grateful Omri is able to join us and look forward to workshopping his original musical ‘BED FELLAS,’ which will be presented at the end of the spring semester.”

Schein described his play as “a quirky, contemporary musical comedy about two men who are so bored with their lives in suburbia that they arrange to swap wives — without the wives knowing.”

Admission to “H.M.S. Pinafore” is free for SUNY Oneonta students and $5 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the Hunt Union or online at http://tickets.oneonta.edu.