Macon native F. Michael Haynie starred in "Jesus Christ Superstar" while in college at New York University. A decade later, he's revisiting the rock musical, but this time in front of millions on live TV.
Haynie, a 2004 Stratford Academy graduate, is part of the ensemble for "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert." The show will air on NBC on Easter Sunday, April 1. The cast includes John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Alice Cooper as King Herod and Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilot.
Haynie, who lives in New York, was one of the lost boys in NBC's "Peter Pan Live!" in 2014. On Broadway, he played Augustus Gloop in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" last year and also has starred in "Wicked" and "Holler if Ya Hear Me."
"He's making his way in the world. It's exciting. A lot of our young people right now are doing exceptional things out in the world of entertainment," said his mother, Sylvia Haynie, who is the theater director at Stratford. "We're already planning a watching party. It's going to be awesome."
F. Michael Haynie said he found out in early February that he landed the role, and rehearsals start Friday in New York City. He's been told there will be a studio audience at the Brooklyn film site.
"It will be really exciting to have the full group with the orchestra and staff and then a live audience, in addition to the hopefully millions of people watching on TV," he said.
Haynie doesn't know yet which characters he'll be playing. "Jesus Christ Superstar" has a lot of characters, and there are many different ways the show could be staged, directed and formatted, he said.
"The ensemble are some of the most hardworking people in the business. It's sometimes less flashy than playing the principals on paper, but they really are the lifeblood of this business," Haynie said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of this ensemble and to get to do whatever the director asks. It's going to be exciting to run around and play lots of different parts during the show, getting to sing with all the other incredible actors and actresses."
The cast includes people with a lot of experience in live singing, dancing and performing, Haynie said. He's exited to work with actors he's only known from afar as well as those he's worked with before. He's a big fan of Legend and Dixon.
"The goal for a lot of actors is just getting to keep doing the work. Getting to act and sing and tell a story is why we do it. I always feel so fortunate when anyone agrees to let me be a part of the storytelling. I hope it continues," said Haynie, who added that he's in the process of writing a show. "
Haynie said TV productions like "Jesus Christ Superstar" are bringing back the live musical experience. NBC also has done live TV productions of "The Sound of Music," "The Wiz" and "Hairspray," and Fox did "Grease," "A Christmas Story" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show." He says he hopes "Jesus Christ Superstar" will inspire a few young people to study theater and encourage others to see a show in New York or a touring production that comes to their town.