Lucas Blair is a California-based performing artist with a national career in the theater. He is returning to Ashland as one of the stars of a new production of "The All Night Strut" at Oregon Cabaret Theatre, which opens later this month. Prior to this show, Blair has been cast in roles at OCT that are as diverse as Dick in "Dames at Sea" and Riff Raff, the houseman in the Rocky Horror Show. I caught up with Blair to talk about his work and upcoming show.

JG : You've been to Ashland before to work with OCT. Tell us about your history there.

LB: I've been working with OCT since 2015. My first show was playing Dick in "Dames At Sea." Since then, I've done two rock musicals with the company and originated the leading role of Danny in the world premiere of The Pine Mountain Lodge. In addition to playing in "The All Night Strut" this season, I'll also be performing as a gangster in this summer's "The Drowsy Chaperone."

JG: Tell us about your role in the upcoming OCT production of "The All Night Strut."

LB: It is a cast of four people. Two men and two women. There is no true love story between the four players. We are simply story telling through intricate song/dance. We are performers from the 1930s/1940s, but the four of us are able to bring a lot of our own personalities to this brilliantly re-imagined piece by Director/Choreographer Michael Jenkinson.

JG: What was your path to the performing arts?

LB: I had a grown-up watching classic musicals and comedies on VHS. I was fortunate to attend a 7-12 grade performing arts school in California where then went off to LA to study musical theater performance. I thankfully haven't stopped working since. So far I've worked up and down California, New York, Oregon and Arizona. All since 2008. I've worked with some incredible artists and now have great mentors because of it. This industry is such a small world and it takes a special kind of human to go out there and do it.

JG: Who are your creative influences when it comes to stage acting, and why?

LB: Broadway vets, needless to say! Nathan Lane, Faith Prince, Chita Rivera and Broadway stars of this generation like Meghan Hilty, Eden Espinosa, Cheyanne Jackson, the lost goes on .... I spent about five years working with the Pacific Conservatory Theatre on California's Central Coast and they have a beautiful spread of versatile resident artists who set a fantastic example of a stage actors craft and work ethic. Also, when attending my performing arts middle and high school, we would take a trip up to Ashland, Oregon, every fall to see shows at the festival. I decided I wanted to do this since I was about 5 years old. And for every show I would sit in a dark theater and watch, each experience at the theater fueled my passion for performing on the stage with professionals some day. It's crazy to think that that's exactly what I'm doing.

— Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at gillespie.jeffrey@gmail.com.