Review: Giovanni Pernice thrills Northampton with song, dance and laughter

Anna Brosnan reviews Giovanni Pernice at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

By Peter Ormerod
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:33 am

“Gio! Gio!” the crowd around me chanted as they paid tribute to Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice when he graced the Derngate stage in Northampton last night (Wednesday).

It could have been Queen pop icon Freddie Mercury standing in front of us – such was the excitement. To be honest, Giovanni had encouraged the crowd to chant his name and he was the first one to compare himself to Freddie Mercury in an onslaught of tongue-in-cheek egocentricity.

As he faced his audience in the latest show forming part of the This is Me tour, he continued in the same jokingly self-congratulatory tone, branding himself a quadruple threat: “singing – tick, good-looking – tick, can dance – tick…” I can’t honestly remember what the last thing was as there came a nod nod, wink wink heckle from the audience which Giovanni deftly batted away.

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I would agree he is a quadruple threat at the very least, but I think his fourth talent is for comedy.

Giovanni doesn’t take himself too seriously, is happy to pretend - in a very definitely Italian accent - that Northampton is his home town. He has even also picked up Del Boy’s old phrase ‘lovely jubbly’ with which he joyfully peppers his conversation.

As to the dancing – Giovanni does not hide his delight at being the reigning Strictly Come Dancing champion and there are a few references in the show to that great moment in his TV career when he claimed the glitterball trophy with actress partner Rose Ayling-Ellis.

At one moment in a dance routine set to the famous Greatest Showman hit This is Me, he signs some of the words, a clear nod to Rose’s deafness and the fantastic spirit and talent she revealed in her dance.

Sadly Rose wasn’t on the line-up in Northampton but Giovanni had talented back-up on stage with a band of dancers, as well as Whitney Martins and Tobias Turley, who displayed some great vocals.

Giovanni’s main partner in the show was Lauren Oakley who is a stunning and versatile dancer and a delight to watch.

Highlight of the night for me was a sequence of dances set to Queen hits including Another One Bites the Dust and Bohemian Rhapsody, complete with choreography reminiscent of that famous music video.

As the evening came to an end, Gio was treated to a standing ovation from an adoring audience of followers. This time he had done nothing to deliberately encourage them - it was all unprompted in sole recognition of his amazing dance talent.

Visit giovannipernice.com for details of future tour dates. See royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/?filter=show&event_type=dance or call the theatre’s box office on 01604 624811 for details of future dance shows at the Royal & Derngate, including performances by Oti Mabuse, Anton & Giovanni, Strictly Presents – Keeeep Dancing! and Here Come The Boys, as well as renowned young dance troupe BalletBoyz and transatlantic drag diva show Strike A Pose