As he prepares to play Peter Pan for the fourth year in a row, David Ribi laughs: “I really am the boy who will never grow up.”
This year he is playing the title role in the Lyceum panto alongside Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook, Wendi Peters as Mrs Darling, Gemma Hunt (CBeebies’ Swashbuckle) as Tiger Lily and regular Dame, Damian Williams as Mrs Smee.
“What I like about Peter Pan is while a lot of pantos are based on slapstick and comedy this has a real storyline and a lot of heart. My dad came to see it last year and was in tears by the end,” says the actor and children’s TV presenter.
That’s not to say the show is not full of laughs, although sometimes the role of Peter Pan is just a straightman (or boy or girl).
“Luckily I get to do a lot of things and join in the fun,” he says and that also includes being airborne.
“There’s nothing quite like flying across the entire audience at ten in the morning belting out a Lenny Kravitz song,” he enthuses. “I love flying. I think if I could choose a superpower it would be flying so I guess this is the closest I can get to that.”
Directed by Paul Hendy, it’s a production high on spectacle which played in Canterbury last Christmas with the same cast bar the Dame.
“Because it went down so well last year Paul just thought, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.”
The day job for David Ribi is as a presenter for Channel 5’s early morning children’s show, Milkshake!
Although some bits are live we tend to film it in chunks, recording a whole week in one day. So it gives me time to do other things like working with my band. Milkshake! Is quite flexible like that. I will be nipping off to do some recording next week.
He has been with Milkshake! for 18 months and has already become aware of how children’s presenters can become very familiar to a certain generation of kids and their parents.
“It’s aimed at pre-school children so when I came into the rehearsal room I wasn’t recognised by the Lost Boys who insisted they were too old for Milkshake!”
Previously he had a career in musical theatre in the West End and UK and European tours of the likes of Mamma Mia, The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray and Dreamboats and Petticoats.
Going on TV was a whole new world. It’s fun because it’s different. One of the things I found about doing those shows was that every day was the same. On Milkshake! anything can happen. It’s constant pressure, if I am honest.
Another string to David’s bow is as a singer-songwriter and has his own band, Triptonic, a close harmony covers trio, who perform on cruise ships and corporate gigs. “ I am musical director and write new arrangements to the covers we do such as setting an Ed Sheeran song to the style of the Rat Pack.”
His Wikipedia entry mentions a stint with the Only One Direction tribute act. “That was a while ago, just one of my jobs, my many pies if you will. I was an alternate Niall Horan and we travelled all over the place. I am not involved any more but I enjoyed being a pop star.”
It’s the first time in Sheffield for the man from Camberley in Surrey. “It’s nice to be in a different place. A Sheffield Christmas is very different from Canterbury or London. It’s a magical time.”
Peter Pan runs at the Sheffield Lyceum from Friday, December 7, to Sunday, January 6.