DAVID Hobson is taking a flying (car) leap on to the stage, writes SARAH HUDSON
It must be tough being David Hobson.
As a lad growing up in Ballarat, he sang in his own bands, appeared on radio and TV, played the piano, guitar, flute - oh, and the drums.
At Ballarat Grammar, the keen surfer and tennis player excelled at football - contemplating a career in the sport - but instead chose to study law at Melbourne University.
It was while dabbling in musical composition that his talent was spotted and he was thrust into the limelight as an opera star - later working with the likes of director Baz Luhrmann, Opera Australia and even The Wiggles - and, thanks to his swarthy good looks, became the thinking woman's Adonis.
Is there anything the man hasn't accomplished?
As it happens, David is something of a virgin as far as popular musicals go. As such his role in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now playing in Melbourne, is a first.
"And I've never driven a flying car before," he says. "I have to dance and act, as well as sing, which is different. Although I do play a love interest, which is a role I've played many times before."
David plays the lead role of inventor Caractacus Potts in the musical about a flying car, loosely based on the novel by Ian Fleming - he of 007 fame - which became a 1968 film.
The "50-something" performer says after a lifetime as a tenor in opera, the role is a joy.
"I was talking to Roger Hodgman (the director) about doing something different from my usual roles - romantic leads in operas. I was thinking maybe a play. But then he pulled out Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and said I'd be perfect for it.
"It's so much fun and it has stretched me in terms of what I'm used to doing."
David says his Welsh heritage means singing and music are in his genes - "it was an inherent part of our family".
His early memories are of performing Led Zeppelin cover songs with one of his garage bands, The Parrots, and even performing at Kryal Castle.
"I always wanted to be in music, but I got waylaid at university," he says. In his early twenties, "intent on being a composer", he was writing a music theatre piece based on Macbeth when he was "coerced" into performing The Pirates of Penzance with the Victorian State Opera and "all of a sudden I was an opera singer".
His mother still lives in Ballarat, and David has not lost touch with his childhood roots. He performs regularly at local events and is a patron of the Ballarat Arts Foundation.
"It's an idyllic place to grow up in ... very supportive, which provided a lot of opportunities. There were a lot of mentors and elders there for me," he says.