Amber Riley had a reason to be filled with “Glee” on Monday night.
With her professional partner – four-time mirrorball winner Derek Hough — she tied the record for best opening week score ever on “Dancing with the Stars.”
In front of her “Glee” pals Kevin McHale, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron, Ashley Fink and Jenna Ushkowitz, the singer and actress hit the dance floor for a sassy cha cha — one which paid a little homage to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” — and walked off with three 9s from the judges.
Last time a celeb had 27 points in Week 1, she went on to win the title – it was Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, who won the mirrorball with Mark Ballas in Season 6.
“You are the tigress of Season 17,” judge Bruno Tonioli told Amber. “That’s how you take it, that’s how you shake it, that’s how you make it yours!”
While Amber may have been the tigress, it was Valerie Harper who stole the judges’ hearts.
The actress, who is facing terminal cancer, took to the ballroom with Tristan MacManus. In her floor length royal-blue gown, the twosome gave an elegant performance of the foxtrot.
“You are an inspiration to the nation,” Bruno said.
“You were radiant, stylish. You move very well. You’re light on your feet,” he added.
The judges told the “Rhoda” actress where she could improve, but what she showed off on Monday netted her (and Tristan) 21 out of 30 points.
Amber and Valerie should stick around for quite some time in Season 17, and after Monday night’s strong season opener, other contenders that are likely to continue on include “Saved By The Bell’s” Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (24 points for a contemporary dance with Valentin Chmerkovskiy) and Jack Osbourne (23 points for his foxtrot with Cheryl Burke).
Likely to give Amber a run for her money though is “High School Musical” alum Corbin Bleu.
The current “One Life to Live” actor hit the dance floor with Karina Smirnoff and the two looked like a pair of pros instead of student and teacher, with the actor matching her moves like he was no stranger to contemporary. The two ended the night in a tie for second (with Elizabeth and Val), and the adoration of a host of “DWTS” fans.
Former “King of Queens” actress Leah Remini didn’t have the highest score (in fact, she ended up in the bottom half with Tony Dovolani), but she too may hang in there for a while having impressed the crowd by showing attitude and sass in her first ballroom outing. And her pal, Jennifer Lopez (with Casper Smart), also lit up the ballroom as she cheered her East Coast pal on from the audience.
One of the more fresh faces in the cast – “Pretty Little Liars” hunk Brant Daugherty – was the first contender to perform in Season 17, with his pro – Peta Murgatroyd. The two had chemistry, and he had the kind of rhythm that should keep him in it for a while.
Amber Riley & Derek Hough, cha cha, 27/30
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff, contemporary, 24/30
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy, contemporary, 24/30
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke, foxtrot, 23/30
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Farber, cha cha, 23/30
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd, cha cha, 22/30
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas, contemporary, 22/30
Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus, foxtrot, 21/30
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani, foxtrot, 21/30
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater, foxtrot, 18/30
Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess, cha cha, 17/30
Bill Nye The Science Guy & Tyne Stecklein, cha cha, 14/30
-- Jolie Lash