Bringing On Back The Good Times with Dreamboats and Petticoats at Cardiff’s New Theatre : David Ribi Interview

The good times are back as Bobby, Laura, Sue, Norman and the gang  shake off those blues and Rock ‘n Roll like never before in the sequel to Dreamboats & Petticoats, Bringing On Back The Good Times plays Cardiff’s New Theatre next week.

Inspired by the latest release in the series of smash-hit, multimillion selling Dreamboats & Petticoats albums, Bringing on Back The Good Times features some of the greatest hit songs ever written from Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochran, The Walker Brothers and many more.

Musical Theatre star David Ribi played Bobby on the original UK tour and West End performances of Dreamboats and Petticoats. He has since appeared in UK tours of Mamma Mia, Hairspray and Rocky Horror Show and is currently familiar to youngsters nationwide as the presenter of Channel 5’s Milkshake!

Here, David discusses the latest instalment of Dreamboats and Petticoats with Andy Howells.

Can you tell us about Dreamboats and Petticoats: Bringing on Back the Good Times coming to Cardiff’s New Theatre next week?

It’s set about six or seven years after the original Dreamboats and Petticoats. I did the original back in 2011, I did the tour for a year and then I was in town for a year. With the sequel we started in mid-February, we had two weeks rehearsals and then off we went!

The sequel is subtitled Bringing on Back the Good Times. I suppose it’s quite ironic especially after what we have all experienced with the pandemic.

Definitely. We see that so much in our audiences as well. I do a little speech at the end saying how it’s been a tough couple of years and that we’re happy to see everyone back in the theatre. I sing the song Bringing on Back the Good Times by Love Affair in the middle of the show. Then we all sing it as an ensemble at the end, with everyone waving their arms in the air. It’s just so joyous to see everyone enjoying theatre again!

How were you introduced to the music of the 60s? You were born in 1987 so was it something you grew up with?

My parents were big 60s music fans. I have always been a musical person and for me that was the golden age of music with bands like The Beatles and groups who played their own instruments, sang their own songs and played live music. Nowadays you can make music on a computer and earn your millions that way. For me, the 60s, 70s, 80s rock music has always been my go-to, especially 60s soul and Motown. That’s what I always listen to whenever I want to chill out or be inspired.

I knew half of the songs for Dreamboats and Petticoats before I even knew the show existed.

Obviously, I did my research for all the songs that feature in the sequel and our producer, Bill Kenwright is so passionate about the music. He’s picked a lot of the songs to put into the show because they’re songs that mean a lot to him which is lovely for us because we get to bring them to life. When he comes to watch the show, he gets all teared up when we sing a song by The Association, it’s so lovely.

What sort of audiences come to see the show?

It’s funny because the show obviously caters to the people that love that specific music, so we do tend to have a slightly older crowd watching it. But all the people that I know who have been watching it who have been in their 20s, 30s and 40s have had just the best night.  I would love people of all ages to come and watch, it’s a joyous fun show. Oh, Pretty Woman and At the Hop are songs everybody knows already, they just don’t know they know them!   It’s such a feel-good show, it caters for all ages, its family friendly catering for the kids to the grandparents – bring your family!

You’ve got an original 60s teen idol in the cast with Mark Wynter?

Mark is one of the loveliest men I’ve ever worked with. We were in the Wyndham Theatre in the West End 10 years ago; he played my dad for a stint. Now, he’s playing Larry the big shop manager who oversees Laura’s career. There’s also a bit in Act Two where he stops being Larry and becomes Mark Wynter and sings his hits from the 60s. You see the audience eyes light up when he comes on to the stage in his tux and sings Venus in Blue Jeans!

I understand the show also features David Benson?

David plays my dad this time and not to spoil the plot, when we end up in Eurovision, he plays Kenneth Williams. His Kenneth Williams impression is spot on!

Who plays Laura, your leading lady?

Elizabeth Carter, who is just fantastic! She took over on the tour when I went into the West End. We never did the show together, but we’ve always known of each other and she’s amazing! She’s one of those people that when she enters onto the stage, you going to be good. Her voice is stunning, and she acts it beautifully and I get to be in love with her every day!

The original Dreamboats and Petticoats was an energetic show too with lots of dance routines, do we get this here?

The Twist is much more isolated than when we were doing the late 50s, but in the finale, we have a big reunion party and sing all the songs from the late 50s and early 60s. We do all the big lifts, and the petticoats are back out, so yes, there are moments of high energy for sure.

It’s a feel-good night, you will be dancing in the aisles, and you’ll leave with a smile on your face. It’s loud and exciting. I can’t tell you about the talent in this cast, there’s not one person that isn’t a leading role. The whole thing is an actor-muso show, so all the musicians are on stage and playing parts. They all have a solo each, every single one of them can sing, dance, and act it’s impressive.

Are you looking forward to returning to Cardiff?

We did the New Theatre in Cardiff on the original Dreamboats tour while I was in the Millennium Centre with Hairspray and Mamma Mia. I love Cardiff as a city, I think it’s so much fun and so lovely. I’m going to spend an afternoon going for a walk in the hills, when I was there with Mamma Mia, we went white water rafting over the other side of the bridge from the Millennium Centre. I’m sure we’ll find things to do even if it’s just coffee outside the theatre – we will make the most of Cardiff!

  • Dreamboats and Petticoats: Bringing On Back The Good Times plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from Monday 11 to Saturday 16 April 2022. Visit Cardiff New Theatre’s website for ticket availability.

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