TV dancing sensation and international champion Johannes Redabe is probably best known for his daring and explosive routines on Strictly Come Dancing – and he brought his new UK tour ‘Freedom’ to Ipswich Regent.
This spectacular show opened with a backdrop of a South African township – corrugated iron, graffiti, and a beautiful lady dressed in colourful, traditional South African dress.
This was Anelisa Lamola, the leading female vocalist for the show and she opened the show wonderfully with a traditional uplifting song that saw our cast of eleven incredibly talented dancers – plus Johannes himself – take to the stage in tribal costumes.
It was wonderful to see Johannes dancing in the traditional manner as he’d learned from a small boy, and later chatted to the audience to admit that: “in the townships, where I grew up, EVERYONE can dance!”
He started his adult career working on cruise ships before being snapped up by the producers of Strictly Come Dancing, and last year finished on a huge high at the end of 2021 by being runner up of the show – and proudly flying the flag for all of the gay community by being the first male same sex dancers, with John Waite.
Our second dance of the evening had a very West End feel to it and the dancing shifted from tribal to more of a jive, then kept the carnival atmosphere going with a fabulous mix of calypso and salsa.
Anelisa carried us into a beautiful rendition of ‘Jerusalema’ – a glorious gospel-influenced song and written in the native Zulu tongue.
Johannes stopped a few times throughout the show to chat with the audience and showed his humble side by taking the time to thank everyone for coming, and admitted that it was the discipline of learning ballroom and Latin that gave him to opportunity to improve his life and move away from the tough township that he grew up in.
The end of the first half was a resounding rendition of Malcom McClaren’s ‘Double Dutch’ with the cast again taking us back to their roots and lighting up the stage in clothing that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a carnival.
After the break, as a complete contrast to the first half, the show recommenced with a slick Broadway feel and our formidable cast danced a high octane routine to the iconic ‘Hey Big Spender’ from the musical ‘Sweet Charity’, and was swiftly followed by a glitzy Charleston and skit to ‘A Little Party Never Killed Nobody’.
The upbeat atmosphere then swept to a dramatic mood, and Johannes danced a beguiling Argentine tango with his beautiful, willowy female partner, Lowri Evans, who were then joined by a male dancer, Ben Ritter. Lowri slowly stepped away to leave us utterly enthralled to watch Johannes and Ben combine strength and sensuality with impeccable staccato moves – and the resounding standing ovation was richly deserved.
A flurry of both Latin and ballroom dances soon followed – waltz, foxtrot, paso doblé and rumba. All were danced with total fluidity, grace, passion and power, and really showcased the skills of the entire cast, who were consummate professionals throughout.
Just as we thought this spectacular couldn’t get any more enjoyable, Johannes returned to the stage – with two of his male co-dancers – dressed in not only the most flamboyant and fantastic sequins and feathers – but also high heels that would make even a catwalk model stumble!
But these guys were foot perfect and shimmied and sashayed their way to Gala’s 1996 classic ‘Freed from Desire’ and Donna Summer’s iconic 70’s hit, ‘I Feel Love’.
Our evening was completed with the full cast on stage dancing disco to ‘Finally’ by CC Peniston, and summed up totally with a final rendition of ‘We are Family’, the most befitting song to close this culmination of passion, pride, dance and joy.
Johannes and his cast certainly have all the colours of a magnificent rainbow, and the whole show really did paint Ipswich red last night (not to mention, yellow, and pink and green!)