I rush into Morecambe’s Midland Hotel five minutes late, flustered, and full of apologies after a wrong turn had led to an unexpected trip around Lancaster’s one-way system.

I’m meeting Lisa O’Hare; an actress who recently starred in Netflix hits Wednesday, and The Sandman, NBC’s medical drama New Amsterdam, and countless major theatre roles like Mary Poppins, and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady opposite Richard E.Grant.

I fear that TV and Broadway stars may not take kindly to being kept waiting.

On the contrary, Lisa is completely relaxed, sitting with her book and enjoying the view of the bay when I arrive. She immediately puts me at ease with a hilarious story about when she was running late in New Jersey. She had parked and dashed out of the car just in time to catch the train into the city, not realising (until a police officer informed her later) that in her haste, she had not only left her keys inside, she’d also left the engine running.

In her defence, she was getting very little sleep at the time. Life was extremely hectic in 2019 with a new baby, a young daughter and two performances a day of ‘The Height of the Storm’ with Sir Jonathan Pryce and Dame Eileen Atkins.

Great British Life: Mary Poppins has been a favourite role for LisaMary Poppins has been a favourite role for Lisa

Lisa’s American husband Brian Shoemaker is a theatre sound engineer who was also working full time in Broadway theatres, and their constant frantic pace of life was beginning to feel somewhat unsustainable. ‘I thought a lot about my sisters and my family at home in Morecambe, and how we were missing those connections and the support network that’s so crucial when you have young children. We had to rely on nannies a lot, and it wasn’t the same as being at home with the girls or the unconditional love they would have received from their grandparents or aunties.’

The surreal circumstances of the pandemic in 2020 eventually forced the couple to slow down and take a break. ‘We got the call that they were shutting down Broadway and we were in shock. It might not seem a big deal to someone who’s not in the theatre business, but Broadway doesn’t ever shut. Ever. We’ve battled through storms and literally dug our car out of snowdrifts to get to work, because Broadway doesn’t shut.

Great British Life: Morecambe-born Lisa enjoys the Midland HotelMorecambe-born Lisa enjoys the Midland Hotel

‘It was supposed to be just three weeks and even that seemed unbelievable when you think about all those theatres and how many millions they’d be losing.

‘Obviously we know now that it ended up being much longer.’

When flight restrictions were implemented, it strengthened Lisa’s resolve that she wanted to be back in England with her family. ‘We’re really close and I panicked that the option for us to visit each other might be taken away. We decided that we would come here to the North West for six months, and then see how we felt.

‘We just loved it, even with the restrictions of the pandemic. Everything was suddenly more manageable with family around us. Over time, it became clear that we weren’t going back. Brian, bless him, returned briefly to pack up all our stuff and make arrangements for the house we had spent soo long renovating! We actually sold the house in New Jersey to one of our best friends, which felt bittersweet as it really was our dream home.’

Lisa, Brian, and their two daughters moved to a rental property in Hest Bank and are now looking to buy.

‘I find the pace of life so much healthier here. In America, people are expected to be available 24/7 answering emails and taking calls about work, but here in the UK the weekend is more sacred, and things just have to wait. It keeps your priorities in order.

‘It took us a while to adjust, I think the locals found it quite amusing at first when we were doing our daily walks, marching up and down the canal towpath at New York speed; ‘there go the Americans!’ But we’ve really settled into community life.’

Lisa loves the scenery here in Lancashire and also goes walking in the Lake District as often as possible. The couple spend date nights at Lancaster’s Quite Simply French (QSF) and enjoy family trips to the Applestore Cafe at Wyresdale Park. Their youngest daughter will soon join her sister at a local school, where Lisa has been helping to fundraise for – and develop – a sensory room for children that need a quiet space to decompress during the school day.

Recently invited to be an ambassador for Lancaster’s International Short Film Festival, Lisa is full of praise for the city’s thriving arts culture. ‘It feels like an exciting time for the North; it’s bustling with diversity and creativity and I think more and more people are starting to realise that.’

Brian has been offered a job at Lancaster University, and Lisa is continuing to build the company she set up just after lockdown, mentoring young actors, and teaching adult dance classes in a studio (coincidentally) just off Broadway in Morecambe.

Having moved from Lancashire to London to attend ballet school at age 11, Lisa says it brings her immense joy to see women of all ages and backgrounds gather together and embrace dance and performance skills in this completely non-competitive environment.

‘I’m fascinated by all of these women who come from such different walks of life to share the same passion. Seeing their confidence grow has been absolutely wonderful and really rewarding for me.’

Alongside teaching dance, Lisa also found time to appear as Arlene in Tim Burton’s Wednesday, which became Netflix’s second most popular English-language series in just three weeks.

This was followed by her role in Sandman with the likes of Stephen Fry and Patton Oswald.

Not one to sit by the phone, Lisa is also forging her own path and working on passion projects – such as a potential collaboration with her good friend and professional dancer Jonathan Watkins.

Great British Life: The family finds the pace life in Lancashire much healthier than in the USThe family finds the pace life in Lancashire much healthier than in the US

Whether it’s theatre, TV or dance, she’s excited to see what opportunities come her way next.

And so am I.

We’re watching the RNLI team training in in the bay when I glance at my watch and realise with horror that I have kept Lisa talking, over a single coffee, for almost three hours.

My morning with the three-times Mary Poppins had whizzed past in the blink of an eye.

She was funny, honest, open, quick to laugh, and easy to talk to.

Dare I say…? Practically perfect in every way.