Donald Corren remembers his first professional musical when, at the age of 10, his Uncle Ira took him to see a touring production of Oliver! in San Francisco, near his hometown of Stockton.
“Watching a bunch of young boys sing and dance and having a great time, it was my ‘I want to do that’ moment,” Corren says. He subsequently played the musical’s Artful Dodger in a high school production and now he has the lead as Fagin in Goodspeed Musical’s Oliver! which plays through Sept. 8.
“You have to love him,” he says of his rogue character that teaches a band of street kids to “pick a pocket or two.” “But Fagin in the [Charles Dickens] book is not particularly lovable.”
But in a musical, he says, the audience has to find something to like in a leading character. So does the actor.
“It’s his sense of humor,” Corren says, “and a sense that maybe he knows deep inside that he could be doing something better. You’ve got to touch that piece of heart in him because musicals are all about heart.”
And yes, he says, Uncle Ira will be there to see him in the starring role at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, coming full circle, after all these years.