Giovanni Pernice: The Hawth Theatre, Crawley – 16th April.
It’s been a long wait for dance fans but strictly champion Giovanni Pernice has finaly quickstepped back to his ‘home town’ of Crawley with a wonderfully witty, energetic and sexy romp of a show.
Whilst it may not be for dance purists, Creative director and Choreographer Alan Burkitt has put together a belter featuring some great set-pieces. It’s loosely based on Pernice’s musical influences and showcases the Sicilian professional’s cheeky sense of humour and of course, the utter joy he takes in dancing in front of his adoring audience.
The opening segment was breathy and magical with a troop of international supporting dancers taking centre stage without Gio. There was a visible intake of breath from the Hawth crowd as the strictly glitter ball appeared before disappearing as if by magic, to reveal the man of the moment, his gleaming teeth almost out dazzling the famous trophy. He later confided that Rylan Clarke is his dentistry inspiration.
Giovanni was on great form showing off his flirtatious and self-deprecating humour. He gently mocked his playboy reputation and long wait for the glitter ball trophy. The mainly female but with more males than expected crowd were eating off the soles of his dancing feet.
The highlight of the first half was the Queen medley – Gio’s personal tribute to one of his biggest inspirations, Freddie Mercury. (They even share the same birthday).
The sublime dancing was almost, almost overshadowed by singers Whitney Martins and Tobias Turley (I was surprised to discover this is Turley’s first UK Ballroom and Latin Tour, a bright future awaits this talented young man).
Giovanni ‘drags’ himself up for I want To Break Free and drags a very game male audience member up on stage. ‘Mark’ did very well as our king sashayed around him, dressed in a Freddie Mercury style leather mini-skirt. A truly crowd-pleasing moment.
Personally, the sensuous and seductive second half was my favourite. An amazing blend of Flamenco and Paso Double that seamlessly merges into a terrific tango with principle dancer Lauren Oakley. The Burn the Floor Dance Captain is more than a match for nimble-footed Giovanni. She is a mesmerising dancer! I couldn’t take my eyes off her whenever she was on stage.
His most famous strictly partner is the fabulous Rose Ayling-Ellis. In a beautiful tribute to her, he signed a meaningful part of show finale This Is Me. A truly special and intimate moment.
The Crawley audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation and plenty of cheers. We don’t have long to wait to see him again; Him and Me, his show with another strictly favourite Anton Du Beke waltzes into the Hawth for two nights on the 14th and 15th July.
By the end of that tour, it will almost be time for King Gio to defend his strictly title. His ambition is to become the first male professional to win back-to-back titles. I wouldn’t bet against him and Giovanni if you want a partner then call me maybe?
This is Me! Giovanni Pernice, The Hawth, Crawley