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Gresham graduate digs his Drammy

Lucas Welsh wins Portland theater award for role in 'Seussical'
by: John Klicker, Lucas Welsh holds his Drammy on Monday, July 3. He won the Portland theater community award for his performance as Horton the Elephant in a Northwest Children’s Theater production.

Gresham's Lucas Welsh, who has been acting since a reluctant debut in third grade, is the winner of a Drammy.

The Portland theater community's award went to Welsh as an outstanding young performer for his most recent role as Horton the Elephant in 'Seussical the Musical,' offered in May by Northwest Children's Theater.

'They didn't make me wear an elephant suit, it was kind of a safari outfit with a lot of baggy stuff,' says the 17-year-old, who got his Gresham High diploma and his acting award at about the same time. One of two male leads in the Seuss musical, Lucas, a four-year member of the Gresham High choir and a student of Janine Kirstein, did a lot of singing in his most recent role.

But his first lead in 2003 took a lot of digging. Preparing to play Stanley Yelnats in 'Holes,' Welsh, then 15, went out into the back yard of his Gresham home and dug a 5-foot-deep hole. He's a good kid. He did it with the approval of his parents, Pam and Danny Welsh.

Lucas Welsh might have by-passed acting except for his mom. Because he had difficulty learning to read, he stomped out from of a third-grade play about recycling and walked home, deciding to abandon his acting career. But his mom caught up with him, reminded him that he'd made a commitment and sent him back for a second day.

'I had more fun with it than I thought I would,' he remembers now. Intensive reading classes allowed him to catch up by fifth grade and Welsh now approaches scripts and tryouts with confidence.

And now that he has a driver's license, Lucas can help with driving chores. His younger sister, Gillian, is singing this week in the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene. And Lucas has taken on a volunteer job, directing a charity performance of 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown,' in Vancouver.

'I think my Mom was pretty happy when I turned 16 and got my license as soon as possible,' he says.

Acting, he admits, is not a lucrative career at this point. His income as an actor ranges he says, 'from quite a bit to not very much' and his parents help pay for gas. But directing a musical at age 17 will look good on a résumé and is good experience, he says.

Now he can add a Drammy to the list. This is the 27th year that the Drammy awards have been presented. Sponsors are Willamette Week and the Portland Civic Theatre Guild.

Naturally, he says, he would like to be an actor some day. But for now he will go to Willamette University, where he has won a scholarship, to study music.