THE 2018 World Cup is only a week away. What perfect timing for Tutti Frutti to be touring Keepy Uppy, Evan Placey's new play in celebration of the beautiful game.

On tour from May 5 to July 1, the Leeds company's premiere will play the York Theatre Royal Studio from June 20 to 23 with its story of schoolboy footballer Joey, who can turn anywhere into a make-believe pitch, from scoring goals in his breakfast cereal to imaginary match-commentating on his way to school.

His mother, a single mum, is a football fanatic too, and his favourite teammate to boot, standing on the sidelines cheering him on, giving him top training tips and teaching him new tricks. Today the high point of the season has arrived: the cup final that offers Joey the chance to score the winning goal in an show full of popping rhymes, fab footie moves, flicks and sidesteps, underscored by a Dominic Sales musical score played live by Vittorio Angelone.

Penned by the Canadian-British writer of WiLD, Tutti Frutti's show about a boy living with ADHD, and directed by Tutti Frutti artistic director Wendy Harris, Keepy Uppy is performed by a cast led by Danny Childs, who appeared previously in Tutti Frutti's Rapunzel.

"It’s been a wonderful challenge writing a play entirely in rhyme and rooted in physicality and movement," says Evan Placey. "I’m excited to see the football moves and Joey’s imagination come to life on stage."

Director Wendy Harris equally enthuses: "With not long to go until the World Cup, we're excited to bring this play about a boy and his love of football to children and their families. We're thrilled that Joêl Daniel has joined the team at Tutti Frutti as our movement director and his role is pivotal to this exciting new piece about football. With his guidance, we're utilising lots of fancy footie moves and breakdancing physicality to express everything about the beautiful game."

Such fancy footwork must be performed by Danny Childs, playing the ten-year-old Joey. "His passion for football is his way of dealing with anxiety, both individually and as part of a team, where he feels a sense of responsibility as he dreams of scoring the winner in a cup final and kicking the ball higher than anyone has kicked one before," he says.

Keepy Uppy is set on one day when everything goes topsy-turvy. "Joey is asthmatic so he needs to pop to the chemists to get an inhaler," says Danny. "He's not alone in being an asthmatic footballer: both Paul Scholes and David Beckham were asthmatic players and so is Sammi Ameobi, my favourite player at my club Bolton Wanderers, where you'll see him popping to the side of the pitch to use his inhaler."

Joey's day will have more ups and downs: a dash to the laundrette to wash his unwashed kit; a dash to buy oranges for half-time after the team forgets to do so; and a dash to the cup final after his mum's car breaks down.

Everything brings back memories for Danny, who was a schoolboy footballer in his time. "When I was about ten, I got invited to play for the academy set up by Alan Lord, a former professional player," he recalls. "We used to train at Stockport and because he was well connected with the football industry, he would invite talent scouts to watch us. I had trials at Stockport County and Blackpool when I was 16, when it was make or break, and sadly it was 'break' for me."

Out went hopes of a professional football career; in came the performing arts, and now he is playing a role that marries both skills. "We looked for that combination when we were auditioning, " says Wendy. "Often footballers and sportsmen are good at dance, when they have that body co-ordination, that ability to move with springy legs."

Danny concurs: "When I had to carry on with life post-football, I decided to study performing arts and because I was in tune with my body, I found dance came quite naturally to me," he says.

Now, everything comes together in Joêl Daniel's movement direction for Danny in Keepy Uppy.

Tutti Frutti's Keepy Uppy plays York Theatre Royal from June 20 to 23; 11am and 1.30pm, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 1.30pm and 6pm, Friday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at Suitable for children aged three upwards and their families.

Did you know?

Tutti Frutti are co-organising the Little Feet Festival of Children Theatre with York Theatre Royal from June 12 to 16.