One of the Mid-South's most promising young actors is embarking on a new career that will take him into new waters — make that international waters.

Russell Lehman, son of Andi and Dan Lehman, and part of a dedicated theatrical family that includes sister Reyn, has acted in DeSoto Family Theatre productions, as well as musicals and productions at Panola Playhouse, Kudzu and Theatre Memphis.

"I was 12 when I did my first performance," said Lehman, who left this past Saturday for Florida. He will soon be boarding a Celebrity Cruise line for ports of call across the globe and performances on the wide open seas.

Lehman's first theatrical appearance was in DeSoto Family Theatre's production of "Peter Pan" in 2008.

Behind the footlights and often waiting in the wings have been his mother Andi, often in the director's chair, and his father Dan, who has helped craft more stage sets in his own long career than most seasoned set designers and builders.

"I've had phenomenal family support," said Lehman. "Be it my father, mother or sister or grandmother, I've been extraordinarily blessed to have had all the support that I've had."

All in all, Lehman has appeared in more than 50 shows, including the recent Kudzu Playhouse production of "Mary Poppins."

"It will be one of my favorites for all time," Lehman said of the elaborate production that included dance steps and moves that he choreographed.

"Honestly, I think dance is helping people experience music in a different way," Lehman said.

He co-directed "West Side Story" at Panola Playhouse along with Janine Marshall.

The harder the dance move, the better, according to Lehman, who danced on the ceiling in "Mary Poppins," which was a scene borrowed from the Broadway Production.

"I love doing it," Lehman said of dancing and acting. "I love helping people achieve things they didn't think they could do. Like in Mary Poppins. Nobody quit. Everybody in Mary Poppins worked incredibly hard."

Scaling new heights is not a problem for Lehman. He has no fear of heights.

"It's in my contract," Lehman said of a clause that stipulates he must often perform feats at considerable heights.

"I'll be singing and dancing for the Celebrity Ship the Constellation," Lehman said. "I'll be sailing to three continents and 40 countries. But I'll miss everyone back home. I'll be taking them with me — in spirit, that is."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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