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How Theatre Changed TDF Member Omri Abarbanel's Worldview

Date: Feb 25, 2016

Welcome to Meet the Member, where TDF members let you know which shows they love.

Today's member: Omri Abarbanel, a student member of TDF originally from Israel


Emily Travis, Marketing Manager at TDF: Hi, Omri! To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Omri Abarbanel: I'm from Israel and I've lived in New York City for four years. I'm studying chemistry at Hunter College. I don't know exactly what I will do with my chemistry degree, but probably something that has to do with food. I love baking and cooking.

Emily: What's your culinary specialty?

Omri: Marshmallows! I make different flavors and shapes for fun for my friends. I have a friend who works at Google. Last week, I made him Android-shaped marshmallows because the new version [of Android's mobile operating system] is called Marshmallow.

Emily: That's cool! But I guess we should talk about theatre. What shows have you seen that caught your attention?

Omri: Disgraced really stands out to me. The day I saw it, I was so tired that I thought I would fall asleep in the theatre! But I just couldn't keep my eyes off the stage. It addresses Islamophobia and made such a huge impression on me. More recently, I saw Mother Courage and Her Children. I went with friends and it was also amazing. The music [by Duncan Sheik] was very good and the subject matter was deep and tragic, but very interesting.

Emily: Did you see a lot of theatre before moving to New York?

Omri: No, not much -- not unless it was a program through school. I would listen to a lot of cast recordings with friends and on the internet. I learned all the lyrics to Avenue Q before seeing it -- even before I knew I would come to New York. Now I've seen Avenue Q twice! I saw the Israeli comedy troupe, Tziporela, 10 years ago in Israel. Now I've seen them here in NYC two times.

Emily: Sounds like you've been a busy theatregoer since you arrived here.

Omri: Yes! I keep all my Playbills. I have more than 80. Theatre has really changed my worldview. I don't know what I would have done without theatre here in New York. I'm a regular now.

Emily: If you had to pick an all-time favorite show, which would it be?

Omri: Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I saw it three times: with Neil Patrick Harris, John Cameron Mitchell, and Darren Criss. One time, I was in line for the show and I heard a group of people speaking Hebrew, so we started chatting. One of the girls had a tattoo of the two faces [as seen in an animated sequence during Hedwig song "Origin of Love"], and we've been really good friends ever since.

Emily: In your photo, you're posing with legendary magician Teller after his recent Broadway show Penn & Teller. Do you usually stick around to meet the stars after a performance?

Omri: I don't usually, except for Hedwig with NPH. However, with Penn and Teller, after each show they ran outside before anyone else and waited to take pictures and sign Playbills with their fans. It was really amazing to see how humble and approachable they were, so I couldn't resist.

Emily: Have you made any theatre-inspired marshmallows yet?

Omri: No, but I will try! Maybe I will make the boots from Kinky Boots or the two Hedwig faces.


Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity

Photo courtesy of Omri Abarbanel

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