Egon Schein: Renaissance manIt’s unusual these days to find a true Renaissance Man, someone who excels in a few different areas of interest. Egon Schein might be considered that modern Renaissance Man, for he doesn’t just excel at one thing; his hobbies take him across the board.
Dr. Schein has pursued performance on stage and radio — in various genres — and in the visual arts.
After a short hiatus, Dr. Schein recently began taking comedy classes in Libertyville at the Improv Playhouse.
“I always thought I could be funny,” said Dr. Schein, a 1959 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. “I try to be funny. Sometimes I get groans and sometimes I get laughter, and both of those are OK.”
The class is taught by an experienced stand-up comic. Dr. Schein said that if you “have the funniness in you,” the instructor will help you bring it out so other people can enjoy it, too. Much of the routine that he has worked on in class has to do with aging.
“It’s funny getting old,” said Dr. Schein. “It’s hysterical. You have to be able to laugh at it.”
The comedy classes have also helped Dr. Schein with his timing and the way he reads lines in his other favorite pastime, performing old radio scripts with the Lake County “Those Were the Days” Radio Players. Dr. Schein got involved with radio shows when he auditioned with a professional director for the part of Fibber McGee. Dr. Schein got the part and went live on air two weeks later.
Now he’s acting out radio scripts from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s in front of groups of people, usually at libraries and occasionally in nursing homes.
“It’s a lot of fun. We have a sound effects man with a desk full of things,” said Dr. Schein. “And I always do a couple of the old time characters because all my life I’ve always done voice imitations.”
This Renaissance Man’s talents even extend into musical theater. Dr. Schein has had a few lead roles in community theater.
“In 1983, I auditioned for Fiddler on the Roof at the Historic Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, where I had a minor role,” said Dr. Schein, adding, “where upon they told me they were going to do the musical Scrooge and would I like be Scrooge? For 13 years I was Scrooge in the musical.”
These days, Dr. Schein finds that he doesn’t really want to memorize scripts and that it’s getting harder to do. Instead, he concentrates on his other passions of painting, drawing and photography.
“I like making pictures, whether I draw them or paint,” he said. “I like images and I think they’re fascinating. I like to be able to create new things.”
He has been interested in photography ever since he could afford to buy himself a camera, which was around 1945. He participates in the Lake County Camera Club’s competitions, and most enjoys doing the technical post-production work on the pictures. Dr. Schein has even been a subject in some of their model shoots.
“I am not a professional model,” clarified Dr. Schein. “I ain’t that cute.”
With all of things that Dr. Schein finds pleasure in doing, he still has the time to practice dentistry three and half days a week, joking that it gets in the way of everything else he has to do, but that he still likes it.
“I’d say I’m enjoying my retirement, but I’m not retired.
I like to do things,” said Dr. Schein. “I’m never satisfied with anything I’m doing, so I want to do more. I want to do better.”
Ms. Azark is the CDS editorial assistant.