How Michael Urie spends his Sundays


Michael Urie is a compulsive chameleon.

Urie, known for his work on “Ugly Betty,” plays Sir Robin in the revival of Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” which premiered Nov. 16 at the St. James Theatre. He described the show as “a high-end British comedy with classic musical theatre, production numbers and fart jokes.”

Urie, 43, will also return for the second season of “Shrinking” on Apple TV+, and in January he will switch roles on stage when he takes a two-week leave of absence to perform in “Once Upon a Mattress” on Encores. in front of Sutton Foster. Then there is a play reading at the Roundabout Theatre; a scripted podcast series; and post-production work for the film “Goodrich” with Michael Keaton.

“The more I do, the better I get at each one,” Urie said. “I tend to say yes to everything.”

He moved to New York from Plano, Texas, when he was 19 to study at the Juilliard School and never left. In 2021, he and his partner of 15 years, Ryan Spahn, 43, a writer and actor, bought a one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a prewar building on the Upper West Side.

“During Covid, we were longing for life at home,” Urie said. “Living on the first floor gives the feeling that there is a lot of life outside our windows. As if we were in a house, in a busy neighborhood.”

Their dog, President McKinley, a Chihuahua-Boston terrier mix, and their cat, Dawson, a gray tabby, live with them.

WAKE UP On Sundays I sleep until 9 because I come from a day of two shows. As I get older, my body wakes me up, so I'm less concerned about sleeping through my alarm, which is set to a relaxing marimba sound. It used to be a fire drill alert, but it became too disruptive.

COFFEE, WALK AND TALK I make our coffee, Trader Joe's medium roast, because I make it stronger than Ryan's, which I drink with a Splenda and a splash of oat milk. We have a new Mr. Coffee and we keep our filters in a cute planter that looks like our dog. I throw on some clothes, often the ones I wore the night before, and Ryan and I walk Kinley through Riverside Park. This is our time to communicate with each other and get our blood flowing.

SEARCH FOR SAVINGS I have a second coffee at home while Ryan feeds the dog and cat. I read the news and catch up on leftover emails. There is a bazaar a few blocks away that we go to on 77th and Columbus. And Housing Works. We love thrift store finds. Recently, we purchased a colorful patchwork armchair and a beautiful faux Tiffany table lamp with a stained glass shade. We are a work in constant progress.

SHAKES, THEN GYM We do intermittent fasting, so we usually have Peanut Butter Split, a protein shake from Juice Generation, or the energy-giving Blue Magic from Juice Press. At noon we are at the Equinox at 76th and Amsterdam. I'm not a classy person and free weights make me nervous. Ryan is doing cardio. I do my own solo yoga, weight machines and dumbbells. I might listen to a few podcasts that keep me entertained: “Up First,” “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” “SmartLess,” and “Fly on the Wall” with Dana Carvey and David Spade, who talk about “SNL.”

PRIOR PREPARATION At one in the afternoon I shave and take a shower. We don't eat properly. We could eat chicken salad sandwiches or Fairway egg bites. Generally, we stand around saying, “I'm going to eat this” or “Can I eat that?” Before going out to the theater I get on the Citi Bike App to see where an electric bike is available. They are easy and fast. The dog is in a backpack. He deadlifts 15 pounds, and that's pretty heavy.

ARRIVALS In the theater, I walk past the stage doorman, check in at the call board, and walk up to the fourth floor where my dressing room is while Kinley greets everyone and looks for food. In my dressing room I have a diffuser, which I start spraying with lavender, lemon sage or chamomile scented oil, and a record player. We have a collection at home and I took a dozen to the theater. The Bee Gees and Air Supply cheer me up; I like power ballads. If I'm trying to get down, Bob Marley softens me up, which I hear at intermission. I drink coffee, brush my teeth, and do vocal warm-ups.

CONNECTING At 2:30 pm, I'm on the couch with a wig in the basement. I go up and down five floors a couple of times before the show starts. It's hard on the glutes, but I like meeting the cast before the show. There's something about connecting as a human before you connect as a character.

FIRST ACT I chat to Taran Killam, who plays Sir Lancelot, backstage while we wait for the show to start. During the overture I vocalize if the microphone is not on. Precision in the first scene is important. Then there are massive production numbers and incessant costume changes. When we get to the galloping taunting scene toward France, none of us can believe we're nearing the end of the first act.

REST I am sweaty. I try to calm down. I drink lots of water. I go on my phone. Fred, my wig stylist, comes in and checks me out.

SECOND ACT I have a great song, “You Won't Succeed on Broadway,” that has a lot of words, and getting it wrong could derail everything. I'm nervous about it, so I go over every word behind the scenes, which now might be a superstition of mine.

GOODBYE GREETINGS The bows are taken around 5:15 pm The cheers are exciting. So is the singing. We look at the audience, sing with them and enjoy each other. After changing in my dressing room, I go to find guests. I show them backstage, take photos and see them outside. I pick up the dog and greet the people waiting to sign signs and posters. There are a lot of young people, many of whom grew up watching “Ugly Betty.” It is very moving.

DINNER AND DRINKS I leave Times Square, sometimes by taxi, sometimes by bicycle. I'm pretty wired, so it's nice to breathe and get my heart rate up once again. I don't like to eat after a late night show, so Sunday is the only night to eat with Ryan. We like New Cottage, which has great spicy chive pancakes and noodle soup, Playa Betty's, and Owl's Tail, which is a cocktail bar. I understand She is a Scorpio. Ryan stays with the Dracarys. If we're feeling frisky, we buy Espresso Guinness Martinis.

TV TIME From 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. we watch television. First is the background noise as we catch up. When we are ready to look, it takes us a while to agree on something. Ryan likes horror movies; I like superhero ones. Together, we could make a documentary about a murder. We are watching an interesting Korean show called “Bargain,” which is about a crazy earthquake and all these people surviving in this building. We also love the beautiful costumes and seeing our friends who are in “The Gilded Age.”

HOT DOG IN BED One of us takes one last walk with Kinley and then we go to bed. I could read; I'm just starting “Less is Lost” by Andrew Sean Greer, which is hard when I'm exhausted because he puts me to sleep immediately. Kinley chooses her dad while he hides under the covers. The colder it gets, the more we fight over it. She's like a dog with a hot water bottle. So we all settled down.

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