Lollipop Lane hits the stage

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TO SW Lollipop ETCH Val Adamson DOUBLE TROUBLE: Pauline Dalais, as Mrs Singh-Singh, and Shika Budhoo, who plays Mrs Singh-Song, hit the stage in The Ladies of Lollipop Lane.

WHO could forget Mrs Singh-Sing, the brick-carrying auntie no one dared cross? And of course her friend, Mrs Singh-Song, the yin to her yang.

Six years ago these ladies and the hilariously peculiar residents of a block of flats won the hearts of thousands of radio listeners when a little radio series, Lollipop Lane, first hit the airwaves at Lotus FM.

No one thought that it would be so popular that within two years of its airing, it approached its 500th episode, gaining thousands of fans and quickly becoming a fully fledged radio soapie.

Lollipop Lane is acknowledged as having played a key role in the rebirth of radio dramas, so it was no surprise that when the show’s radio life came to an end in 2012 there were queries about whether it would return.

Now brand Lollipop Lane is making a comeback, but in other forms, beginning with The Ladies of Lollipop Lane, a production that brings Mrs Singh-Sing and Mrs Singh-Song and other crazy characters to life on stage.

The creator of the radio soap and the stage show, The Ladies of Lollipop Lane, Clinton Marius, explained the three-pronged approach.

“Primarily our aim, after radio, was just to keep Lollipop Lane going because people loved it so much. We needed to find new avenues to do this.

“With the Centre for Fine Art, Animation and Design, we’ve been planning for two years to develop the show into an animated TV series. We are aiming for Lollipop Lane to be the first animated TV series.”

Marius and team have kept fans – who have inundated them with enquiries about the radio show’s return – appeased with monthly YouTube clips from Lollipop Lane.

They are now moving on to their second part of the plan – the stage show The Ladies of Lollipop Lane.

“We thought we’d put The Ladies of Lollipop Lane out on stage to satisfy the public who’ve been asking for Lollipop Lane to go on stage.

“Also, to be able to launch the animated TV series we need to raise funds to produce the first season. It’s difficult to get funding at the best of times. We are doing the stage show in the interim to appeal to the public, so they know Lollipop Lane hasn’t disappeared. We will use it as a springboard to attract investors for the animated TV series.”

Using the structure of comedy road shows, Marius said each character would have a slot to perform their 10- or 15-minute act in The Ladies of Lollipop Lane.

“They are all linked by my two lead characters, Mrs Singh-Sing and Mrs Singh-Song, who will introduce the show.

“We start the show radio-style, where people just hear the voices. They’ll be able to recognise their favourite radio voices, and then the characters come out on stage.

“The style is pretty much comedy road show, a combination of stand-up comedy and comedy sketch, with some song and a bit of dance.”

Marius is keeping mum about the other details.

To find out what the terrible Mrs Singh-Sing and Mrs Singh-Song get up to, with their wacky neighbours, we’ll have to wait for the show.

The Ladies of Lollipop Lane stars Pauline Dalais and Shika Budhoo as the much-loved Mrs Singh-Sing and Mrs Singh-Song.

Dhaveshan Govender appears as Ricky, and Maeshni Naicker reprises her role as the outrageous kleptomaniac pensioner, Auntie.

Mpume Mthombeni appears as the irrepressible domestic help, Regina.

Caitlin Kilburn is the dolphin-whispering, tree-hugging Shirley, and newcomers Sandile Mthembu and Khanyisani Kheswa appear as the handyman, James, and his twin, who is also James. As a special attraction, the production features a guest appearance by Caroline Smart as Shirley’s mother-from-hell, Edith McDoodle.

The transition from radio to stage is a challenge Dalais is looking forward to.

“Mrs Singh-Sing is a grumpy old lady. She hates everyone and thinks everyone is stupid, with the exception of her son who is a lawyer.

“She is fearless and fears no one, except Mrs Khan – the landlady. She moves about with a brick in her bag and is not afraid to use it. She has hit a tenant with that brick and she’s spent a week in jail and was sent for anger management classes. She’s the only person who got the anger management counsellor angry… I want to be just like her when I grow up,” she laughed.

Budhoo said that after expressing only the voices of the characters, it was exciting to bring their personalities to life on stage.

“I think the show will have as much appeal as the radio series because we are literally taking the characters off the page on to the stage. I think people will be captivated, especially listeners who were avid radio series followers. They’re going to love it.”

• Co-directed by Marius and Caroline Smart, performances of The Ladies of Lollipop Lane are at 8pm on April 11 and 12, with a 3pm matinee on April 13. Bookings are open, through Computicket. Early booking is advised.

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