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Actor Sean Needham is at Eden Court all week working 9 To 5 onstage as Franklin Hart Jr the boss from hell

By Margaret Chrystall

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In the musical 9 To 5 at Eden Court on Tuesday, let's be honest – Sean Needham is the guy everyone loves to hate.

He plays Frank Hart Jr, the boss from hell who is “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot”, according to Violet and Judy, who are egged on by work colleague Doralee – played by Dolly Parton in the film – to get their own back on him, which they very much do. Oh yes ...

Sean said, without giving away the way the women get their revenge for anyone who might not have seen the film or the show: “Safe to say I get my comeuppance in a very funny way.

"And, yes, it does challenge, and, yes, it does chafe!”

In recent years, Sean has made a speciality out of roles in musicals, but he began his career where he could get his chance, he says.

“When I was younger, I started in what used to be the norm, in variety and holiday camps, in and out of bands and comedy bands and working at Butlin’s and supporting comedians and end of the pier stuff. So I developed a certain sort of style, I suppose, in my delivery and it has served me well because, I suppose, I came up the hard way.

“I had to earn it and I had to really knock on all the doors.

“From there I got into a little TV and I did some of the soaps – a part in Emmerdale – and Crossroads, then Hollyoaks

“Once you do one, you’re a bit of a safe bet, so I did them all!”

But having worked in TV for a number of years, Sean, decided it was time for a change.

“I play instruments as well, and I got myself into The Buddy Holly Story musical which I know Inverness has had a couple of times, though I wasn’t in it when it was there.

“That was a great show and from there I got an agent who worked predominantly in musicals and then that was it!”

Like everyone, Sean had an enforced break with the pandemic.

“For me, it was the same as for a lot of other actors. My day ended at 6pm in 9 To 5 at the Savoy Theatre in London one March day last year. I met my wife who was in Wicked and we got the train home and Boris Johnson announced he was recommending that nobody go to the theatre – and the whole West End shut down.”

Sean spent his time occupied as “full-time daddy daycare”.

Ironically, when society is getting reacquainted with what can seem the alien workplace for many who have worked at home for the past 18 months, 9 To 5 is all about a workplace with some of the inequalities revealed by #MeToo.

Sean is aware: “Nothing is more relevant than that. We’ve had to get that across.

"But, I’ve always thought this, comedy is a useful tool because you can walk out of a theatre having had a great time, having laughed so much and feeling light on your feet because it is such a joyous piece.

"But actually, the underlying message you have received – maybe subliminally – is an important one.

"We’re a very relevant piece and I’m very proud of it.”

9 To 5 The Musical is at Eden Court until Saturday, with shows on Thursday, Friday both 7.30pm, Saturday matinee (2.30pm) and Saturday night (7.30pm. November 23-27. Tickets and info: https://eden-court.co.uk/event/9-to-5-the-musical-1

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