Alumnus Returns for ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ Role
The Apollo Music Club at SUNY Oneonta will present Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore” on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1-2. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Hunt College Union Ballroom.
The show 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.
The cast is made up of 22 students and one SUNY Oneonta alumnus, New York City-based musical theatre actor, playwright and songwriter Omri Schein.
“I am thrilled to have a chance to direct Gilbert and Sullivan’s first true hit, and it is icing on the cake to be working with Omri Schein,” said voice teacher and production director Colby Thomas of the SUNY Oneonta Music Department. “The students are benefiting enormously from working with such a professional actor. 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.”
A 2002 graduate of SUNY Oneonta’s Theatre program, Schein went on to earn a master’s in musical theatre 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, and 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. He’ll return later this semester to help with a workshop production of his original play, “BED FELLAS,” which he describes 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.”
“H.M.S. Pinafore” was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first international hit, running for nearly 600 performances in its original 1878 London production. The comic, two-act operetta takes place on a British ship, and the plot revolves around two young lovers—a poor sailor and the captain’s daughter—whose social class is an obstacle to their being together.
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.”