Local teen actor on track for success
By BY ALICE ADAMS
July 18, 2010 at 2:18 a.m.
Sixteen-year-old Raymond Yancey first stepped on stage at the tender age of 5. And on that day, his love affair with the theater was born.
"I was in a show at Faith Family Church titled 'God's Precious Gift'," recalled the Faith Academy junior. "They needed somebody for the role of the Teddy Bear and I just happened to be a cute 5-year-old."
That was the beginning. And from Teddy Bear to his role as Schroeder, Charlie Brown's friend and piano virtuoso in the upcoming Theatre Victoria Peanuts Gang musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," Raymond has continued his passion for "entertaining audiences, making them laugh and making their day just a little better."
He is the son of Jodi Yancey and Joey Sandoval.
"I feel fortunate because we have a really good fine arts department at Faith Academy," Raymond explained, "So I've taken drama and choral classes at school as well as private lessons with Christie Jeson, who is an awesome performer."
That training and the teen's love for the theater led to his winning awards for three consecutive years for best actor at Faith Academy. But, he's also well-rounded, being named best newcomer in basketball and earning the student council award.
By far, however, Raymond's proudest accomplishment came when he was named "Mr. Top Teen of Victoria," a national humanitarian and environmentalist award earned by person who invests himself in his community.
In his spare time, he volunteers at the local women's and children's shelter, where he babysits.
He also volunteers at a Victoria nursing home, where he visits residents.
"I like talking with seniors, mainly because they share experiences that help me to learn about other times and people," he said.
He has led a public life for years.
"I got involved in professional modeling when I was 11," Raymond said, "and did a few commercials in Austin. Getting up in front of people is easy to me and I love doing it. That's why I've loved rehearsing for 'Charlie Brown.' We've got a great cast and it's cool because I am able to feed off other people's energy. Besides that, it's an awesome feeling, being on stage."
Although he's using his summer vacation to rehearse for the musical, Raymond said he's also having fun getting to know and portray his character, Schroeder.
Raymond, whose favorite subject is history, said playing Schroeder "is kind of weird because there are so many different sides to his character. I change my whole way of walking and talking in this role, but it's a fun process."
Theatre Victoria's Producing Artistic Director Charles Moster said the entire cast for the summer musical is loaded with outstanding talent and Raymond is no exception.
"Raymond brings the whole package," the director said. "Not only can he act and take direction but he is an accomplished singer and dancer as well."
And Raymond's looking forward to the July 23 opening of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
"My friends are all excited. And one night, I think the whole theater will be filled with friends and families," Raymond said. "You'll know who they are because they'll also be the loudest. I used to be embarrassed, but now I'm really glad they're out there, supporting me."
He's also excited about being part of the Charlie Brown production.
"The last song is called 'Happiness,' he concluded. "My personal philosophy is that of spreading love, peace and happiness wherever I go. So when I first read the 'Happiness' song, I thought, 'Wow! This is awesome. It's what my life is all about.'"
Alice Adams is president of Alice Adams Communications in Houston and Austin. She serves as a consultant, co-author, author and editor for numerous projects. She lives in Austin. Contact her at Rtadams2@aol.com.