Review: Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice at Blackpool Opera House for opening night
Some people are born to dance, some to sing, perform, create and Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice were simply made to do all of it and at the top of their class.
That's the only way to sum up the opening night of their first ever show on a tour 'Him and Me' that has been beseeched by set-backs in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
Nonetheless, resolute in the firm belief the 'show must go on' the dashing duo and a truly wonderful ensemble cast finally got their chance to get back centre stage and deliver a sensational performance in what was actually the most fitting of locations and venues for opening night of a 12 date tour - the home of ballroom dance Blackpool's Winter Gardens.
It was an extraordinary scene as curtains went up on the Opera House stage, a momentous occasion for the live arts industry.
'Him and Me' was the show of shows bringing back to life everything involved with theatre, not least people albeit socially-distanced.
Lights, music, songs, drama, comedy and of course dance for which the night's two stars are renowned. It was an overwhelmingly emotional start to the show, a feeling felt from the stalls to the heights of the balcony.
Deafening cheers as the auditorium turned to black and two shadowy figures were revealed on stage. 'Am I dreaming?' asked Giovanni behind his face mask.
The audience might well have had the same thought.
And then the music kicked in, their feet began to move and the crowd were once more carried through a journey of dance, nostalgia and romance.
Those familiar sounds of the Fred Astaire era 'A Couple of Swells' and onto a wartime course through to the modern day musicals of The Greatest Showman, even Mariah Carey, wrapping up in a Boogie Wonderland.
It was a taste of the dancehall, the disco, the cabaret bar, a date and a night at the movies and not to mention Giovanni's Italian roots all in one.
A Strictly Come Dancing series spectacular on speed, with all a dance fan could ask for in two hours with two of the hit show's favourite professionals at the helm.
Multi-title winning dancer Lauren Oakley was just stunning in the principal dancer role, putting in one of the most energetic, captivating and exhausting performances I have ever witnessed. The inspired story carried by her and Giovanni through the Strictly Theatre Company production was at times had the audience entranced, especially in the Latin numbers.
But much credit too should be awarded to the supporting dancers and vocalists, with beautiful arrangements and some truly heart pounding choreography which left much of the crowd wanting to take a breath.
As with any opening night there can be the odd glitch and at times the sound was a little hindered for the start of certain numbers but did not detract from a spectacle that highlighted and captured everything such a production should be.
The synergy between the principal cast added to that Anton and Giovanni have with the resort added another element to what was a very special evening.
The only thing missing from this totally, utterly, enchanting performance? A full audience to indulge in it - roll on July 19.