April's Greatest Person: Connor Doran
Talented junior's star shines brightly year-round.
But Connor is showcased these ways for a reason: He's mighty talented.
Doran, a junior at Baldwin, hasn't wasted a moment of his high school years. And for those who have seen his impressive performances, they haven't wasted their time, either.
The 16-year-old resident of south Baldwin Borough's Olympic Drive plays chromatic percussion (xylophone, et al.) for the Baldwin High marching band every fall, spends his winters preparing for the school's spring musicals and spends his springs actually doing the singing and the dancing. And through it all, he plays piano—and occasionally sings—for the Baldwinaires, an audition-only ensemble.
Needless to say, Doran loves music—so much so that, when he's not performing for Baldwin H.S. somehow, he's playing and singing at his nearby parish of St. Germaine's in Bethel Park. Years ago, he was doing the same for Saint Albert the Great Catholic Parish in north Baldwin.
Doran is following in his grandfather's footsteps in many ways. He used to perform at Saint Albert's when Doran was a youngster.
"My mom always took us to the Masses," Doran says, "and after Mass, we'd always go up to talk to him and see him. And I'd always bang on the piano and try to play it when I was like 3 years old.
"It was so much fun. I'd get a little glare from the organist (laughs), but then I actually ended up working with the organist when I got older."
From Mass to the masses, Doran has recently brought his talents to another stage—literally. He took on the important role of "Father" last year in Baldwin's musical "Children of Eden," and this year, Doran had the starring role of "Lt. Frank Cioffi" in "Curtains."
Sporting a more-than-adequate Boston accent throughout this year's story (not to mention some happy feet), Doran danced, sang and acted his way through six sterling performances in April—not bad for someone who says that he might actually be more comfortable in the orchestra pit.
"Theater is just a hobby for me," Doran says. "On stage—it's a great feeling, but I also like the behind-the-scenes work like director and music director and playing for the shows. I love that whole aspect.
"And that's something that I get to experience, fortunately, because I'm student director (for the musical) and student rehearsal accompanist. It's just an awesome thing to experience.
"I'm really not that comfortable as an actor, but as a singer, as a musician, I'm a lot more comfortable."
Purely a Baldwin-Whitehall School District product—he's attended only public schools in B-W—Doran plans to continue to work in music in college and beyond and speaks glowingly about the education that he's received so far. He credits Ms. Seible, a second-grade music teacher at McAnnulty Elementary School, for seeing potential in him at a very young age and putting him on his current path. And from there, he says that every district music teacher that he's had has formed him in a positive way—his current mentor being Kris Tranter, of course, the de facto king of music at Baldwin.
"He's a fantastic musician in person," Doran says of Tranter, the staff director of the high school musical and the leader of the Baldwinaires.
Tranter had phenomenal things to say about Doran in kind.
"He's quite exceptional," Tranter said, "and I would have to say 'rare.' This is my 13th year teaching, and I've never seen a student with that kind of talent before—well-rounded talent, too. He's a great singer. He's a great actor. When you talk about his piano-playing abilities, you can't even explain it. He is just that good."
Like many of his colleagues, Doran has had some outside help throughout traditional schooling. He works with piano and voice teachers on the side. In fact, his piano teacher recently entered him in a May 12 Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Association competition. Although the spring musical has only just wrapped up at Baldwin, Doran will waste little time in getting busy again, working hard to prepare for that contest as well as for academic finals and high school choir and band concerts.
A busy Doran is a happy Doran, and nothing pleases him more than seeing others enjoy themselves.
"I like to see people happy," he says of his motive for a career in entertainment.
If standing ovation after standing ovation this April each time that the "Curtains" fell is any indication, Doran's happiness seems to be contagious.
Watch the video above to see Doran in action this school year.
And read other Baldwin-Whitehall "Greatest Person" profiles here (dating to October 2011).
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