Onstage, bad guys have all the fun.
“There’s just an absolute freedom onstage when you’re playing someone bad,” said Kennie Bass. “You are free from the responsibility of someone liking you. Bad guys have no restrictions.”
This Friday, Bass makes his debut as Franklin Hart, Jr. in the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”
The musical is based on the 1980 movie of the same name, where Dabney Coleman played the bossy, oversexed boss.
“He’s just such a bad person and he revels in his badness,” Bass said.
Bass, who also is a television reporter for WCHS, didn’t set out to play the bad guy but said the role was the only one that would work for him.
That doesn’t mean Bass isn’t enjoying his time playing Hart, however.
Bass said he’s played all different kinds of characters onstage, but bad guys are the most fun.
“I love playing villains. I absolutely love it. There’s just something about getting away with things that I normally wouldn’t do . . . and wouldn’t want to do.”
Bass acted in several plays through high school and college but took a break from the theater when he started working as a reporter.
“I’ve always loved theater. I just didn’t do it for a while because I worked nights,” he said.
He returned to the stage in 2009 for the Children’s Theater of Charleston’s production of Charles Dickens “Oliver.” He played career criminal and murderer Bill Sikes, one of literature’s most villainous villains.
In “9 to 5,” Bass gets to act alongside Rebecca Mullins, Elizabeth Cary Brown and Rudi Raynes.
Mullins plays Violet, the role originally played by Lily Tomblin in the “9 to 5” movie. Brown plays Judy, originally portrayed by Jane Fonda, and Raynes plays Doralee, Dolly Parton’s character in the movie.
“They’re so talented and so perfectly suited for their roles. I cannot imagine anyone else playing those roles except them,” Bass said.
Bass worked with Raynes during her time as a WCHS reporter, but this is the first time they have been onstage together.
“We’re close friends and Rudi is a consummate actor. She knew going in what the role entailed. We’ve made it a lot of fun,” he said.
The plot of the play is very similar to the movie but with new original songs written by Dolly Parton. The show includes several ballads along with up-tempo songs.
“There are some tremendous numbers in this musical. She’s a very talented artist,” Bass said. “I even get a bad guy number.”
And don’t worry. Just like in the movie, Franklin Hart’s fun doesn’t last forever. Violet, Judy and Doralee eventually get their revenge with the help of some telephone wires and a mechanical harness.
“It comes as no surprise that Franklin Hart gets his comeuppance in the end,” he said.
The Charleston Light Opera Guild borrowed a half-ton lift from the Clay Center to use in the production.
Bass said the harness is uncomfortable but he’s confident Tom Pasinetti and the rest of the guild’s technical crew will bring him back to earth, safe and sound.
“The guild is the gold standard for me. To be entrusted with a lead role in a guild production . . . this is kind of a bucket list thing. I’m sincerely thankful.”
The Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical” opens Friday at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater at 7:30 p.m. Subsequent performances will be May 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17, with a special matinee on May 11 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling the guild’s box office at 304-343-2287.
For more information about the production, visit www.charlestonlightoperaguild.org.