WITH its mix of live music and vocals, gorgeous costumes and sensationally-sexy dancing, Burn The Floor, is currently the hottest ticket in town.
And this hugely-popular international franchise has plenty of local flavour thanks to singer, Lelo Ramasimong and her husband, Michael Ramasimong (better known by his stage name Mike Swaga), who plays the drums.
For Lelo, the show marks a homecoming for the Durban-born, award-winning musical theatre star.
Her dynamic vocals and bubbly personality have made her a firm favourite with audiences from her earliest days with KickstArt Theatre Company, with whom she won a Durban Theatre Award for best supporting actress in Little Shop of Horrors.
More recently she has been collecting accolades for her work in The Colour Purple.
Lelo, who won a Naledi Award for best supporting actress in a musical for her role as Shug Avery, will be appearing in next year’s short revival of the show, so if you missed the first two seasons, you’d better book now.
“Since being part of The Colour Purple, I have been able to learn more about being an actor. Until then I was always more of a singer, who did a bit of dancing,” she says.
“I really wish the show could come to Durban so that all the people in my hometown could get a chance to see it. It’s such an amazing show.”
Lelo missed collecting her Naledi as she didn’t expect to win what she called “a tough category” and, as she was competing in The Voice SA at the time, decided to skip to ceremony.
“Typical isn’t it … the one time you decide not to go to an awards [event] you end up winning,” she says with a laugh.
Asked what she loved most about being part of the Burn The Floor family — whose alumni include Johannes Radebe who is performing in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in the United Kingdom — she says it’s being able to be both part of the show and part of the audience.
“I get to watch all these incredible dancers every night. Even though I am part of the story, I find myself watching them as if I was sitting in the stalls.
“They are so amazingly talented and are able to use their bodies to tell all these different stories. People don’t realise what amazing athletes they are, especially in this show,” she adds.
Having been lucky enough to watch Burn The Floor at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya, I can confirm that the speed and precision with which the cast deliver each sequence leaves you breathless.
Moving effortlessly from the Latin American styles of jive, cha cha, samba, rumba and Paso Doble to ballroom favourites like the waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango and Viennese waltz, they demonstrate their love and passion for the art of dance.
Lelo and Mike have been married for six years and are loving having the chance to work together in Burn The Floor.
“It’s been so much fun being in the show together and we would both love it if we were asked to join the cast in another one of the many other countries where the show is performed,” she says.
In the meantime, Lelo has decided to begin laying down tracks for her first ever studio album.
“It’s been coming on for a while now,” she says, adding that she believes everything in life needs to have good timing.
“It’s no use doing all the work and releasing something that no-one is interested in. That’s why I want to put together music that is really good lyrically.”
Mike, who was born in the Free State, but now calls Johannesburg home, will be producing her album.
Speaking to me in a break from rehearsals, he says that while he has worked with some of the biggest names in the South African music business, including Khuli Chana, MXO, Tuks, Proverb, JR and HHP, being in Burn The Floor is the best experience he’s had in his career so far.
“It’s also fantastic that every night I get to be on stage with Lelo. And, of course, the dancers are phenomenal.
“To see how much energy they put out on stage every night is really humbling,” he says.
“Being in Burn The Floor has also made me realise that I would like to do more musical theatre work … but I would also be on the first plane out of South Africa if the company asks me to perform somewhere else!”
For now, this talented couple are focusing their time and energy on the KwaZulu-Natal run of Burn The Floor, chilling on the beach and spending time with Lelo’s family, before they head back to Johannesburg to appear in Janice Honeyman’s festive season pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
- Burn The Floor — The Rebel Tour is at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino until September 29. Tickets are R285 at Computicket or from Checkers and Shoprite stores.