Role: Young Jamuka
Project: ‘1170 Underdog,’ an Off-Off-Broadway play

Ray Reynolds III

Ray Reynolds III

While most kids probably spent this past summer building tree forts or sand castles, 10-year-old Ray Reynolds III went to auditions. In fact, his first audition led to his first role, in a period play titled 1170 Underdog, about the Mongolian boy genius who would grow up to be Genghis Khan. The play ran in August at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, where Ray played Young Jamuka, friend of the young Khan. “I just studied my lines all the time, even right before the show,” he says, “just to make sure it was perfect. I didn’t want to mess up my first time.”

Ray’s father, Ray Reynolds, who has also been cast in roles he saw in Back Stage, found the part in Back Stage East and encouraged his son to give it a try. “Ray plays the piano, he performs, and he’s very comfortable in front of people,” his father says. “I thought he’d be a natural. Instead of just going to another summer camp or something, I thought this would be a really rewarding experience. And I was taking a chance, but I just had a real good hunch that he would enjoy it. Fortunately, I was correct; he’s just having a ball.”

Young Ray’s all-American, Norman Rockwellesque features might seem an unlikely choice for the role of an aristocratic Mongolian boy, but he says he felt confident after the audition because the casting director took the time to give him direction: “He told me how to do more stuff.” In the end he beat out other, more experienced child actors and was one of only two kids cast in the production.

“I’m always going to rehearsals,” Ray says, “and I miss a lot of play dates and beach time. But I love it because it’s really exciting. I guess I think, Wow, I’m actually doing this! Every time I did a rehearsal, I felt really good after it — and I love that feeling. I just want to do that over and over again. It’s just so much fun. And my friends all think it’s really cool.”

Now this young man, who recently signed with an agent, has to balance auditions and rehearsals with school. “As I tell him, school comes first,” his father says. “As long as we can fit everything in, we’re going to pursue it.” Ray lives near Red Bank, N.J., not far from the Jersey shore, and continues to travel with his father to New York to audition for small films, plays, and commercials.

“I hope to do more during the week, because I want to miss school,” he says with a laugh. “But I’m just excited to go to more auditions during the school year, because then I get to tell everybody about it. I don’t like to brag a lot…but if I do get a part, I want to share it with everybody.”

This “Who Got the Part?” column was published in the Dec. 6-12. 2007 issue of Back Stage and online at BackStage.com.

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