Love at first set with Nora Sheehan and David Rosser

Love at first set.

David Rosser and Nora Sheehan on the set of Private Lives.

Nora Sheehan and David Rosser have a marriage that could easily be plucked out of a romantic play- make that a romantic comedy. They share how it all began, what makes life as a couple of actors work so flawlessly and their upcoming show The Numbers Game at Lighthouse Festival Theatre.

How did your love story begin?
David: We met in Orillia on the set of Private Lives in 1992.
Nora: No we got married in 1992.
D: Right sorry, we met in 1990. I was attracted to these piercing blue eyes and strong shoulders. But it wasn’t just that, we had instant chemistry and electricity.
N: I really looked forward to going to rehearsals. We laughed constantly.

Do you work together often?
N: It’s hit and miss.
D: I’m always surprised that directors don’t take advantage of couples, especially if you need a husband and wife team. There’s instant chemistry with that level of trust. But maybe directors are worried…
N: It will go down south.

Have you had moments on stage that have gone awry?
N: When we first did Private Lives together, there was one part that I did the bunny in headlights every single night. David saved my butt several times.

Can you laugh it off after?
N: You are just so grateful!
D: You dropped a line, it’s not the end of the world. That’s the great thing about trusting the other actor you’re on stage with. Hopefully they’re listening and not waiting for their cue.

You will star together in The Numbers Game at Lighthouse, how many times have you performed in this show?
D: This is our third time. We premiered it at Theatre Orangeville with David Nairn, then at Bluewater Playhouse with Ralph Small. It was interesting working with a different director, getting a different set of eyes. This time, Derek (Ritschel, Lighthouse Artistic Director) asked the playwright John Spurway for some minor changes. It’s still funny and romantic, but the pace is faster so it’s like a different play.

Your characters are the complete opposite. How do you find having to act like you don’t like each other?
N: It comes naturally! No it’s good, we just laugh a lot. We are very supportive of each other, we really are each other’s biggest fans.
D: We are best friends too.
N: We trust each other so much on stage and off, I always ask for help and vice versa.
D: The fact that we go home to the same place helps. We settle in, have a drink, make supper, and work on lines. We rented a house during the second production and set up all the furniture in the basement to match the set. We rehearsed every night, it was perfect!

What are you most looking forward to this time?
D: The chance to discover something new and put more of your stamp on it. We could do this show for several more years. I’d love to go across Canada with it.
N: We’ll be 80 trying to pass as 50.
D: We also love these characters and had a huge part in creating them. You get that opportunity when you premiere a play. They’re 50 something, you don’t get that with a lot of shows anymore. I’m not ready to play a supporting character to some 20-year-old whippersnapper. I like to think even in my 50s I can be a romantic leading man.
N: You look good.

It sounds limiting to find work at your age. Does that get frustrating?
N: You try to laugh it off.
D: Nobody is twisting our arms to be in this business. The fact that we get to do what we love together is fabulous. I mean we get to play with each other and bring in twice the income!

Is it hard both having careers as actors?
D: A lot of people say, “Oh you’re both actors, how does it work financially?” We have actor friends who are married to people with 9-5 jobs and a steady income. But we have established our own lifestyle and home. As long as you have that to go to at the end of a tour or day, you can make it work. You just don’t always know where that next dollar is coming from. Even at this age.
N: Yeah, my hooker days are behind me. HA.

David Nairn directed the world premiere; do you think he will keep his direction the same?
D: He will want to rediscover. He’s not going to just use his notes from four years ago. In some scenes the playwright has made wholesale changes, big slashes. That’s a great challenge as well. I have faith in David to help us find those things.
N: The set is completely different, too. I wouldn’t want to do the exact same show.
D: I think we are getting a handle on who Phil and Bernie are.
N: Maybe we will finally get it right!

What would you say the overall message of The Numbers Game is?
D: As bad as it might look right now, you always have a second chance. We discuss growing up and high school, bullying and infidelity, having a crush on someone that never noticed you, that unrequited love.
N: It’s never too late.