GREEN Hammerton company Badapple Theatre’s 25th anniversary tour of Eddie And The Gold Tops is doing the milk rounds.
Delighted to have secured “crucial 11th hour funding” from Arts Council England in March, North Yorkshire’s “theatre on your doorstep” practitioners are back on the road with their best-selling show on its first outing since 2017.
“We’re thrilled to have made it to our quarter century,” says funding and media manager Annabelle Polito. “After two unsuccessful requests for funding support across the autumn/winter of 2022, we were looking at having to close the company this year.
“So, this £24,283 in support means a huge amount. We hope it means we can add to the life of the small communities that we serve right across the country and spread a bit of theatre joy and bring folk together.”
Travelling by van rather than milk float, a cast of York actress Emily Chattle, Zach Atkinson and Irishman Richard Galloway has been milking every laugh from artistic director Kate Bramley’s 1960s-inspired comedy since April 15.
The tour will conclude back home at Green Hammerton Village Hall on June 13 after travels to Northumberland, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, the Midlands and down to Bristol, as well as across Yorkshire, on the company’s return to full-scale touring for the first time since the pandemic hiatus.
Eddie, the much-loved village milkman, becomes a pop star, completely by accident, in the frenzy of 1963’s music fever, when The Beatles were the cream rising to the top. “You could become an overnight star,” says Kate.
No sooner has Eddie inherited the family milk round from his father than suddenly his songs are heading up the charts. If he can arrive by tonight, he will be on Top Of The Pops [Editor’s pedantic note: TOTP did not start until January 1 1964!].
Confusion reigns and when things take a ‘churn’ for the worse, how will Eddie get back for the morning milk round?
“It’s a very cheerful piece, really funny,” says Kate. “People love the Sixties because it was a very full-on time and the songs were great! It’s definitely got a real feelgood factor, and what’s endured in the 12 years since we first did it is that people need to have a good time. This is our vocation: generating joy!”
Recalling the play’s origins, Kate says: “It took a while to come up with the title. We had the story first, and the reason the main character is a milkman came from a wartime land girl telling us about her time as a milk lady just after the war. Green Hammerton was ahead of the times!
“So, I’d already collected stories from Liz Powley about those experiences, storing away that idea, and then when Jez [composer Jez Lowe] and I started talking about doing something rooted in Sixties’ music culture, it came down to putting a milkman in the story!
“It’s not that he’s a ‘singing milkman’, but it’s the contrast between his village life and how he wanders through life saying yes to everything and everybody. He’s just a really nice fellow who, when a producer needs a singer, he says yes, as long as he can be back for morning milk deliveries.”
Compare and contrast with today’s wannabe pop stars. “What’s pure about this story is that Eddie doesn’t want to be a star, he just becomes one by accident, whereas now people say, ‘I’m going to be famous’ and then find a way to do it,” says Kate.
She knew the dawn of the Beatles era would be the ideal setting. “That sound of the Sixties, we were just coming out of the skiffle craze, and everything was really upbeat: Elvis, Eddie Cochran, The Beatles. That’s why people are still drawn to the Sixties’ style. Great fashion; really colourful; anything goes. Teenage led. Politically switched on too. It was a time of excitement and a quest for happiness and not just for yourself.”
As for the cast’s milk tastes, Zach says: “I’m addicted to milk, but it’s got to be refrigerated, not warm.” Richard says: “I don’t really drink milk, but I’d have it in cereals, though I do like coconut milk.” Emily? “I’m vegan, so it’s oat milk or soya milk for me,” she says.
“None of their milk preferences affects their acting,” says Kate, who resides in a North Yorkshire village with dairy herds in the fields. “I’ve written a play about milk. What more do you want?! I’m guilty [of drinking milk] by association!”
Badapple Theatre are on tour with Eddie And The Gold Tops until June 13. For tour and ticket details, go to: badappletheatre.co.uk. Yorkshire tour dates include: Sutton upon Derwent Village Hall, May 13; Cherry Burton Village Hall, May 21; Husthwaite Village Hall, May 24; Tunstall Village Hall, May 25; Otley Courthouse, May 28; June 9, North Stainley Village Hall, near Ripon, June 9, and Green Hammerton Village Hall, June 13 (box office, 01423 331304). All shows start at 7.30pm.
Did you know?
IN a brief tour break in June, Badapple Theatre cast member Emily Chattle will be exchanging her wedding vows. Congratulations!