Harbour Grace -
John Sheehan was recently tied up and gagged with duct tape in a St. John's bathroom - and he enjoyed himself immensely.
The Harbour Grace stand-up comedian had a small part in the series premiere of the new CBC drama "The Republic of Doyle," which premiered Jan. 6.
Sheehan portrayed one of a pair of drug dealers from Alberta - complete with cowboy-style 'Cal-ga-ry' hat - making trouble for St. John's-based private eye Jake Doyle, played by series co-creator Allen Hawco.
Sheehan told The Compass he was impressed with the professionalism of the show's production.
"They were extremely professional and really committed to what they were doing, and I was impressed with Hawco and everybody who was involved," he said, adding the show is doing a good job of using local talent.
"I think it was very important to Allan and the production company, I mean I can't speak for him, but I think it was important to him to use a lot of Newfoundland talent as far as production crew and everything else goes."
In fact, Sheehan said he weighed very carefully the pros and cons of taking the part last summer, knowing that the one-time small part might disqualify him from a bigger part down the road.
"It was a tough decision last summer. I knew there was no lines for the character, but I knew it was a couple of good scenes," he said. "With any show, you know, you don't know if it's going to be back for a second season or not. I didn't know at the time how good it was going to be and I certainly debated whether I was going to take the role or what."
In the end, Sheehan took the part, since television work isn't the focus of his career and he thought the role would be fun. "I just thought it would be good to go in and get the experience."
Sheehan said he was pleasantly surprised by the positive response.
"It's been really great. It was really weird considering it's a small role. I had no lines or anything, like that. But everyone, a lot of people have come up to talk to me about it or made Facebook comments about the hat, or the duct tape."
Small role or not, Sheehan's part was scheduled to be shot over three days, but wound up taking longer.
"People never appreciate the production that goes into something like television or film. It was incredible," he said.
"The bathroom where (actor) Jon Whelan was ducked in the bathtub and I was duct-taped, it looked perfect, but that was in the studio. That was constructed in a studio.
"So much goes into every shot. You gotta make sure the lighting is right, the sound is right. You gotta shoot from different angles. You gotta do five or six different takes of every line. For a scene that takes 30 seconds on screen, that could take half a day of shooting."
The bathroom scene, for example, takes 30 to 35 seconds on screen but, even though the shoot went relatively smoothly, Sheehan said, it took more than two and a half hours.
Overall, Sheehan says a successful series would be a godsend to the Newfoundland acting industry.
"I think it's going to raise the profile tremendously," he said. "I think it's going to give a lot of performers in Newfoundland national recognition." And the credit is due to the hard work of the people involved, he said.
"I think the writing is great. I think Hawco and crew really came up with a good idea, and the shots of St. John's are gorgeous."
There might not be another role on "The Republic of Doyle" in his future, but next month Sheehan will be taking to the stage again with the Rising Tide theatre company's "Revue 2009," which is playing five shows at the Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear Feb. 3-7.
Sheehan's been involved with the Revue - which marks its 25th anniversary this year - for eight years. The show takes a humourous look at the previous year's news.
"It's a collective piece. We get together Dec. 1. Donna Butt is the artistic director, she's in charge of the company and she's the director for this show, and she's the one who sorts out all the material and picks it out and decides what goes on stage and what doesn't."
Some of the topics from the past year up for skewering include the H1N1 outbreak, Premier Danny Williams battle with Hydro-Quebec over NB Power and his visits to Calgary. Sheehan will play the premier several times throughout the show, he said.
"Whoever the premier is at the time is always the main focus of the show, but with Danny, he lends it a bit more, because he's very outspoken, and his popularity is such, and he's so good about it he takes it all in stride."
In March, Sheehan is doing an Alberta tour with fellow Newfound-land comedians Snook and Trent McClellan, with gigs in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray.
"I'm looking forward to it. I've never been west of Ontario."