Theatre Review: Giovanni Pernice – Born To Win, St. Helens Theatre Royal, St. Helens

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Image Source: St. Helens Theatre Royal
Image Source: St. Helens Theatre Royal

Written By: Lauren Bell

Format: Dance Show
Genre: Dance
Date: July 1 2018
Location: St. Helens Theatre Royal, St. Helens

Strictly Come Dancing has become a British tradition of Saturday night TV. Following the success of Come Dancing, the long-running TV show featuring ballroom and latin dance couples, in 2004 the BBC was pitched the idea of a version using celebrities with professional dancers, and so the show was born. Now in its 14th year, and with fifteen successful series behind them, it’s no surprise that it is still averaging 11 million viewers each week. Viewers are transported to a different world, with sparkle, glamour and elegance.

Over the years, around fifty professional dancers have come from many parts of the world, and have been given the task of training up their celebrity partner in many different styles of ballroom and latin dancing, ready for a performance each Saturday night. For some of these professionals, this exposure on the show has helped them to boost their own fanbase and popularity around the world.

Giovanni Pernice was born in Sicily, and grew up watching Come Dancing, which is how he found his love of dance. Moving away from home to concentrate on dance, he eventually ended up in London, and with many championship titles under his belt, he joined Strictly Come Dancing as a professional dancer in 2015. Although he has only been on the show for three years, his popularity has already grown with the fans, and he is already on his second UK solo tour.

His previous tour, Dance Is Life, toured the UK in 2017, and received rave reviews. This year’s tour Born To Win is even bigger, and tells Pernice’s life story through dance.

Although Giovanni is a dancer primarily, he is also a great entertainer too, and kept the audience entertained between dance numbers, playing heavily on his Italian charm; in fact, he could be compared to previous Strictly professional Vincent Simone, who was very similar in personality. He is joined by a cast of seven other professional dancers: Luba Mushtuk, Kai Whiddrington, Giulia Dotta, Curtis Pritchard, Emily Barker, Kylee Vincent and Stephen Vincent. Throughout the show, they help to tell the story of how Giovanni was brought up in Italy, how he learned to dance and eventually moved to the UK before joining Strictly.

With a mixture of different ballroom and latin styles, and with an array of music from current to more traditional, this show is enough to keep anyone entertained. You wouldn’t even have to be a big fan of dance to enjoy it. Giovanni has a certain charm on stage to keep all ages happy, and is brilliant at working his audience no matter what happens; he even kept us entertained when a front-of-house member had to come up on stage to tell us that two cars were on fire outside the theatre(!).

The dance numbers throughout were brilliant, and every dancer on the stage was as good as each other, with no-one standing out for the wrong reasons. The numbers were clean, exciting and helped show off everyone’s strengths. If I am going to be very critical, I would say a few of the group numbers need cleaning up, as some timing issues were shown when anything involved lifts.

I particularly enjoyed the Musicals section, where they performed a few routines from Jersey Boys, Hairspray and Dreamgirls, and these popular tunes had the audience clapping along straight away. The staging throughout was perfect, and even the audience participation went down a treat.

Giovanni was very thankful of his cast throughout, and repeatedly told us how he couldn’t do the show without them, and made us give them extra rounds of applause. There also seemed to be a lot of support for the other dancers in the show too, with a huge party sat behind me supporting the two Vincents, and Strictly professional AJ Pritchard also in the audience to support his brother Curtis. Luba Mushtuk, Pernice’s leading lady, is also joining the cast of Strictly Come Dancing this year, so I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

This is a brilliant professional show, and is as good as anything you will see in the West End. It is entertaining, exciting, funny and inspiring. If Giovanni does another tour in the future, I will definitely be going to see it and recommending all my friends to do the same!

Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect