Let Me Entertain You – Review

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Dance, Featured, Reviews

Let Me Entertain You – Ipswich Regent

Giovanni Pernice’s 2024 sensational dance tour is aptly subtitled ‘Let Me Entertain You’ – and (be it a merely a suggestion or a full on invitation!) – this charming Strictly Come Dancing champion certainly delivered on all counts last night at Ipswich Regent Theatre.

Backed by an incredible cast of dancers, musicians and a BSL interpreter, this consummate all rounder had the audience captured from the get-go and we were treated to a fabulous evening of dance, theatre, singing and laughter.

The show opened to the iconic song of the title and was a huge energetic high – with some incredibly fast cha cha footwork – which then moved smoothly into a Chicago style set where the ladies (led by Giovanni’s professional dance partner, Lauren Oakley) showed us all ‘How to Burlesque’.
New to the show this year (and a huge delight to me personally, as I feel that music played live just brings a whole performance together) the band – led by musical director Alex Turney – then played a very jazz inspired version of Gloria Estefan’s ‘The Rhythm is Gonna Get You’ which saw Giovanni and Lauren turn out a super swift quickstep which left the audience almost as breathless as the cast!

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Giovanni several times over the years, and it’s wonderful to see how much he has elevated himself – from not only being a formidable dancer – but is now also a fantastic all round showman. He clearly thrives on delivering live theatre, stating at the start of the show that ‘the more we (the audience) give, the more they (Giovanni and Co) will give back’. With this statement in mind, it seems that neither party were disappointed!

Several times during the performance, he took time out to chat to the audience about his past, his present, his future dreams, and there was lots of interaction with the band throughout. This was much to the amusement of us in the audience – Giovanni clearly has great rapport with all of his team that work tirelessly together and just cements their passion and commitment to deliver a show which is certainly West End worthy.

Coincidentally, the next section of the show paid tribute to many of the big shows that have graced the West End (and Broadway) – in their hugely amusing rendition of ‘A Musical’ from the show Something Rotten – which features songs from ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Oliver’ to name a few.

From iconic musicals, we shifted to the 80’s, with a glittering playlist which kicked off with New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ followed up by The Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’, Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ (where Giovanni used an enormous old-fashioned mobile phone as a comedy prop) and the section ended with Toni Basil’s pom-pom waving ‘Hey Mickey’, where the titular name had been cheekily swapped for Gio. This final song gave dancer Katie Dunsden the chance to shine with her own great vocal ability while whimsically paying tribute to the leading man himself. This section was also a highlight for the talented Stacey Green, the BSL interpreter as she kept up with such a fast-paced medley of music and dance.

Perhaps for me the highlight of the first half was Lauren’s sultry rumba to Heart’s ‘Alone’. Her talent really is world-class, she has the most exquisite feet and legs which were really sensational in this dance where Giovanni was clearly happy to showcase his leading lady in all her glory.

After a brief interlude, Giovanni and his cast were back with a very theatrical paso doble to Destiny Child’s ‘Survivor’. It was a very earthy dance, with lots posturing and intent – especially so when Giovanni danced with Pasquale La Rocca (his dance captain) and when the song swapped to ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons, it also gave Jacob Booth the opportunity to demonstrate his fantastic drum skills.

After such a serious and dramatic performance, things were lightened up by some good old fashioned audience participation – where ‘Alan’ was the chosen one to join the cast on stage and play their stooge during a very amusing rendition of ‘Beauty School Dropout’ which was originally performed by Frankie Avalon in the 1978 classic film, ‘Grease’.

From fun we switched to a little more serious and sombre, and Giovanni spoke of his gratitude and appreciation for where he is today – and referenced the film ‘Sliding Doors’ which is an interesting exploration of the ‘what ifs’ that we encounter thoughout our lives. With the opening scenes of the film being set on a train platform, Giovanni clearly wanted to bring the story to life through dance and Lauren and he shared a beautiful contemporary rumba mixed with Viennese waltz to Freya Ridings’ haunting ‘Lost Without You’. Liberty Stotter (lead female vocalist) did this beautiful ballad huge justice and the whole performance was just spine tingling.

I know I’ve mentioned before how Giovanni has progressed to being a great all round entertainer and he loves to sing! In the following act, he, Conor Mellor (vocalist and guitarist) and Alex Turney gave their all when they performed ’Somewhere’ from West Side Story, beautifully accompanied by Liberty and Katie with their female harmonies. Another moment for the goose bumps to return, and Emily Layden-Fritz whirled her way through some wonderful classical ballet steps.

As with all good things, this exceptional show had to come to an end, and the penultimate performance was a mix of disco and cha cha to Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’, Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and J-Lo’s hip thrusting and hand clapping ‘Let’s Get Loud’. Seriously, if you weren’t up and dancing by now, then you never would be!

The fabulous finale featured two of the greatest songs from Tina Turner, ‘Nutbush City Limits’ and ‘Proud Mary’ which had the whole auditorium on their feet, totally caught up in the sheer energy and passion of this wonderful work of entertainment.

Glorious, glitzy and glamorous Giovanni – thank you for being such a great entertainer!

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