Musical theater actor F. Michael Haynie (known to his friends as “F”) has lived in New York City for nine years and made his Broadway debut with Wicked in September 2012 as Boq, a character caught in a love triangle between two different witches. He graduated from NYU’s theater program and previously acted in the Off-Broadway plays Carrie and Dogfight. Wickedhas been running in New York since October 2003.
NY: What’s your favorite part of playing Boq in Wicked?
FMH: My favorite part of the role is getting to really watch the amazing performers around me every night and learning everything I can from them. This company is stunningly talented, and it’s an education eight times a week.
NY: What’s your dream role?
FMH: Always love this question. I wish it was something easy like a character I’ve always been chasing, but the honest answer is that my dream role is the one you haven’t seen yet. I am a huge fan of new material and, until Wicked, I hadn’t ever not originated a role [that I played]. There are amazing new shows being written by Drew Gasparini, Marcy Heisler, Zina Goldrich, Ryan Scott Oliver and others that will blow your mind. The new and unexplored excites me.
NY: What’s your warm-up routine like before a show? Do you have any lucky charms or unusual rituals?
FMH: For Wicked, I don’t have much of one. It’s all about what you need to do pre-show to be able to healthily do your job. For some of the shows in my past (Carrie or Dogfight), my physical and vocal warm-ups were just small things to light the fuse, but I’ve never been one to have a long or elaborate warm-up. I do between 30 and 50 pushups with one of the stagehands, Larry, before my reentrance into Governor’s Mansion in Act 2, but that’s for fun!
NY: What’s the most embarrassing (or funniest or weirdest) thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?
FMH: One day in the production of Carrie, after a crazy improv bit that I did in the show, an audience member let out such a ridiculous cartoon chortle that I couldn’t help but get tickled. Unfortunately, my friend Corey and I could not get it together and were shaking with laughter. The absurdity of this laugh cannot be explained in words. At least we got to face up stage for the ballad that followed, but [actor/singer] Derek Klena had to face us whilst singing it. He is a rock! I have always been impressed with his talent and poise, but he went above and beyond while Cor and I were laughing in his face! The audience had zero clue, but I will never forget it.
NY: What do you do after a show to unwind?
FMH: I often schedule business meetings postshow. I’m a night owl. I find my mind really functions after my job is over for the night.
NY: What’s your favorite thing about New York?
FMH: That’s like asking a kid what his favorite part about candy is. This is my home now. I love it all. The good, the bad, the roar, the silence, the people, all of it.
NY: What’s your least favorite thing about New York?
FMH: It’s hard to turn off. I have been fortunate enough to work, almost exclusively, in New York City. But it’s hard to escape the hustle and bustle. Especially in this business you have to be on all the time. It’s hard to find a place to hide when you need it.
NY: What’s one thing every tourist must do when in NYC?
FMH: See an obscure show! We all know Wicked, Lion King, Mormon, etc., but go see a show you’ve never heard of. Broadway, Off-Broadway, Downtown. Check out MCC Theater, Joe’s Pub, UCB or the Bitter End. The unique, fleeting art in New York City will take your breath away.
NY: Favorite only in New York moment?
FMH: New York roof party on New Year’s Eve in Midtown is just about as “only in New York” as it gets!
NY: Favorite NYC celebrity sighting?
FMH: While we were doing Carrie at the Lucille Lortel, we had some really fun celeb audience members. My favorite was when one of the actors came flying into the dressing room and said, “Guys! Is it just me, or can you hear Professor Snape laughing in the audience?!” Sure enough, Alan Rickman was there! It’s always nice to see other actors seeing theater in their down time.
NY: Cab, subway, bus or walk?
FMH: WALK, WALK, WALK! If you need to travel a distance, go with the “submarine,” but walking this city is part of it.
NY: What’s your favorite New York restaurant?
FMH: I hate to give away my good spots, but there is an amazing sushi joint on 46th Street between 8th and 9th avenues called Ocha. Their lunch special is very happy for the wallet, and the service is superb.
NY: What’s the best pizza in NYC?
FMH: Lombardi’s is one-of-a-kind New York pizza, but “corner pizza” in New York is just as good. Someone explained that it’s the water in the city that influences the taste of the dough. So just go for it!
NY: Gray’s Papaya or Magnolia Bakery?
FMH: If you don’t live here, Magnolia. That banana pudding is almost as good as my grandma’s!
NY: Brooklyn Bridge or Chrysler Building?
FMH: Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is really beautiful—but it’s not for everyone.
NY: Where do you go for a post-theater coffee, glass of wine, dessert, etc.?
FMH: I have a couple of local haunts near the theater I frequent: House of Brews on 51st Street and Hibernia on 50th Street and 9th Avenue are my jam.
NY: If family members were coming to the show, where would you recommend they eat around the theater?
FMH: It’s New York City; there are amazing places to eat on almost every block. Explore!
NY: Is there a special place/spot in NYC you love the most?
FMH: Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park is my favorite spot. Non-New Yorkers might not get it? But for us, it is heaven.
NY: What’s your perfect night out in the city?
FMH: Seven words: Alex Brightman, Drew Gasparini and Andrew Kober! My best friends and collaborators. A night writing our new TV series, playing board games or just doing crazy karaoke beats any I’ve ever had!
NY: What do you most enjoy doing on a day off?
FMH: I try to keep myself really busy with new projects. I am a song writer (YouTube.com/SongsintheKeyofF), so days off are good days for dates with my piano or guitar. Also I’ve been working with my best friends on a new TV pilot called Morons. And if it’s nice out, a game of catch in Sheep’s Meadow is always a good option.