Review: Eddie and the Gold Tops have a number one hit at Chelwood Village Hall

By Chew Valley Gazette in Arts

Last month touring company Badapple Theatre brought their production Eddie and the Gold Tops to Chelwood Village Hall. The sell-out show saw the audience cram into the small hall to watch this fabulous production that was enjoyed by all young and old and was a credit to the skill, talent and range of this professional company.

This comedy musical follows Yorkshire milkman Edwin who goes from his village idyll of Bottldale where he is an award-winning milkman with a big heart to becoming a chart-topping pop sensation Eddie. Set in the 1960s Eddie is a chipper young man trying to please wanting to fulfil his dad’s dying wish of keeping his milk round going. He is a man who goes above and beyond for his customers and this instinct to help leads him unsuspectingly into the clutches of London fame maker who finds himself in need of a front man for one of his bands.

Hearing young Edwin sing wheeling dealing Brian soon has him restyled as Eddie and packed off to the studio to record his self-penned song Bottledale Girls (a very catchy pastiche of The Beach Boy’s California Girls). Soon Edwin finds himself leading a double life, not revealing his new life to his fellow villagers not even his girlfriend Marion who finds herself longing to meet the enigmatic Eddie. As Eddie fever sweeps the nation including Bottledale Edwin struggles to keep his two lives separate and his secret stardom threatens his milk business and the life of his beloved cart horse when his childhood nemesis Peter seizes on an opportunity to evict Edwin when he is away performing on Top of the Pops.

This production is full of heart, warmth and comedy. The script and the small village tone has the feel of a Victoria Wood sketch or early Comic Strip work. It has the quirky characters, the clean but cheeky jokes, and that infectious joy that had me smiling almost from the moment the play began to long after it ended.

The 1960s pop culture references and particularly the song pastiches were a joy for anyone with a memory or knowledge of the era and yet the comedy and narrative was not reliant on these references and even the youngest members of the audience were laughing along as the story unfold.

The production’s set designs and lighting alone deserves five stars. An imaginative and clever use of a revolving prop set which sees Edwin’s milk float swing round to become the village pub, horse stable, recording studio and even Top of the Pops stage was ingenious, effortless and effective. Sometimes with small productions momentum is lost with scene changes or in an effort to keep momentum the scene rarely changes but not with Badapple’s production we were on a journey but like with Eddie’s accelerating stardom it was a fast-paced journey and sadly came to an end too soon.

This is the second Badapple Theatre production I have seen and Chelwood Village Hall should be congratulated for bringing them back. Whilst I would love to see Badapple perform to a bigger audience Chelwood Village Hall has an intimacy that suits the company. It feels like stepping back into the era where touring companies were plentiful and village halls were the place to head for an evening’s entertainment.

You come away from the hall feeling as if you have had a night of wholesome, light-hearted, heart-warming and uplifting entertainment, and were left singing Eddie’s chart topping hits all the way home.

Lets hope Badapple return next season!

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