NBC's musical 'Peter Pan Live' has a Scenic City connection - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

NBC's musical 'Peter Pan Live' has a Scenic City connection

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Another year, another NBC live musical, and another Scenic City connection. The real-life father of one of Captain Hook's Lost Boys is a Chattanoogan. We caught up with F Michael Haynie, by phone, on the set just a few hours before show time. "More people will see me tonight than have seen me, combined, in every production of every show I've ever done in my entire career," he calmly said.

"F," to his friends, has done more than 300 shows in Wicked on Broadway, but, Peter Pan Live is even bigger. He is working with Steven Malone, a Central High grad who we introduced you to last year when he coached the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. The two discovered their connection at the craft services table just a few weeks ago. "We were talking about where we were from, you know," F remembered. "I'm from Georgia but my dad's from Chattanooga and (Steven) was like, 'Really? Where?' Blah, blah, blah and I mentioned CTC (Chattanooga Theatre Centre) and he goes, 'Who's your father?' I said, 'Phil Haynie.' He goes, 'I know Phil Haynie! I know his wife, I did shows with him when I was a kid!' And so, it was this really amazing connection that 20 years later, that he and I are together on Long Island making Peter Pan live."

"The cool thing about so many of the towns like the town that I grew up in, Macon, Georgia, and Chattanooga," Haynie added, "all of these really amazing towns in the Southeast have these vibrant and exciting theater communities," he said. "And it takes just one person really saying, 'I want to do this with my life,' having a supportive community behind you and getting experience to really cut your teeth Community theater and things like that, it says a lot about those towns in America." 

Just about a month ago, after a month of rehearsal, the cast first donned costume and make-up, and put Peter Pan Live together on the set. "It was that moment," Haynie explained, "every single person in the whole production came together and said, 'We've got a show!'"

It was magical for many reasons. There is the set. "We have pretty much a full pirate ship, a full Edwardian English home where the Darlings live, and then a full giant Neverland that includes a hideout, a Mermaid Lagoon, a Rose Tree Forest, and we play in the whole thing," Haynie said. "It's incredible!"

The technology is pretty great, too. "The things that we're able to do in this production," continued Haynie. "We have live flying and our Tinkerbell is a digital projection that we actually don't see, on stage. We've been choreographed to know where she is. It's being done like John Madden does a telestrator. It's an amazing bit of technology. And it's all live, I can't stress that enough."

And Haynie credits a great crew and cast that includes, "A spectacular actress and performer in Allison Williams," he said, "who happens to be one of the nicest people I've ever worked with."

There was also a pretty legendary Captain Hook. "There is also nothing like being on the set with Christopher Walken," said Haynie. "He is everything you could expect from a legendary comedian, dancer, singer, actor; he's just as much of a ham as every other actor I've ever worked with. He's such a team player and a loves find new bits. And his Hook is unlike any Hook you've ever seen."

Haynie describes this production as more revival than a re-do for the sake of doing. "This is a very new version of Peter Pan," he said. "There's lots of new songs, new takes on characters, new performances, new costume ideas by our amazing costume designer, new sets. There's so much new! And know that it's all done with and nod and a tip of the hat to all the Peter Pans who came before us." 

What does Haynie want viewers to take from the production? "We just hope that everybody can really sit down and just be transported away from all of the evil in the world and all of the really upsetting things in the world and, just for a minute, sit down and have a great family moment," he explained, "and really know we, together, can do so many good things in the world." 

By around 4:30 Thursday evening, F. Michael Haynie said he already understood that Thursday was going to turn out to be a bittersweet day. "Usually, opening night is the day that, you know, you get to start the job," he said. "But, tonight, it's one and done. Then, we go back to our hotel, tonight. We pack up from where we've been living for the last week and then we all go and try to find the next job."

But, the next performance will surely come. And besides, the work is just part of his mission. "I hope there is at least one kid out there who watches this and looks up at that screen and goes, ‘Mommy, Daddy, I want to be an actor!' And if we can do that for a generation of people, then when all the Lost Boys are the age of Christopher Walken, we'll have new Lost Boys to come in and really get to keep this going."
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