Strictly stars sashay into Shropshire for night of dance fun

'Freedom Day' turned into fancy footwork night as two of Strictly Come Dancing's most popular professional dancers brought showbiz sashaying back into Shropshire.

Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke
Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke

Starting the show sat and masked, they peeled off their spangled face coverings with a flourish as they leapt into action.

"Is this really happening?" asked Giovanni. "You better believe it!" yelled a member of the overwhelmingly female audience.

Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice were clearly delighted to bring the first non-socially distanced show of their Him & Me tour to Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury... or She'saberry, Shoeburry or Shooserbury, depending where Giovanni's Italian accent took him. "Did I get it right?" he asked Anton. "Well, you got it similar," consoled the British Strictly veteran.

The playful banter between Du Beke, a stalwart of every Strictly series but only once a finalist, and the young Sicilian, three times a finalist since joining the dance show in 2015, was almost as much fun as watching them dance. Anton takes on the role of the aching elder and Giovanni the conceited young stud, but both do it with a twinkle in the eye.

Supported by a nine-strong troupe of exceptional and apparently tireless dancers, who also had feature spots as singers to the thunderous recorded music, the duo kicked and flicked, swivelled and spun their way through a cavalcade of dance styles.

Whilst Gio gyrated and thrusted, it was the mature Anton who brought the Fred Astaire class, though maybe we could have seen more of him gliding into action in golden days of Hollywood style.

There was a wartime theme so Giovanni could showcase his jive prowess and a great In The Mood tap routine by the female dancers. The two stars also appeared in drag for a 'Sisters' routine during which Anton marvelled at Giovanni's similarity to former celebrity partner Nancy Dell'Olio.

Of course, Anton could not fail to mention his elevation to permanent member of the Strictly Come Dancing judges' panel, which got the biggest cheer of the night. He also promised to walk on "as a normal human" for the TV show rather than do the judges' little dance moves which "look like a seizure". And being on the panel means he will definitely be at the final this year.

He also joked about his tendency to get the, shall we say, less talented celebrity partner as he brought on a wheeled cut-out of Ann Widdecombe.

The two-hour show led to a crescendo with 'The Land of Thousand Dances' for a bit of Saturday Night Fever on a hot Monday evening with the audience out of their seats for a standing ovation and some in the front row kissed on the hand by Anton... "Don't worry, I've been double jabbed," he told them.

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