Strictly husband and wife duo Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara will appear in Leamington Spa later this month with their revamped version of Remembering Fred.
They can be seen on Thursday March 29 with new dances, costumes and look as well as some new technology as Aljaz explains.
“We will also be adding a huge LED screen to the production to create a multi-media cinematic experience for the audience,” said Aljaz. “It's going to be an epic show to choreograph with the screens behind us.
“It’s an honour to celebrate Fred Astaire’s career and to perform all the routines inspired by his genius. Just like Fred, we will again be doing it big, doing it right and doing it with style!”
“We had the most wonderful experience choreographing and starring in Remembering Fred in 2017,” added Janette. “We were blown away by the audience reaction at every single show and we can’t wait to bring Remembering Fred to more people in 2018. The multi-media aspect is really exciting, creating a Hollywood studio feel to the show. There may also be some vocal surprises, too! Everything is just going to be bigger and better.”
Fred Astaire was one of the most influential dancers in the history of film and television musicals and, says Aljaz, an inspiration in his own career. “He was a pure perfectionist, and to think that it was 80 to 90 years ago is incredible. It doesn't really matter what level of dancing you are at, he's always inspirational. He was the first star who brought dancing to mainstream film, so all of us who are working as dancers today should really be thankful to him. In a funny way, without Fred Astaire Strictly Come Dancing probably wouldn’t exist.”
Janette agrees that Astaire’s legend made a lasting impression around the world. “He made everything look so natural and easy and just delivered his routines so brilliantly. I don't think anyone has ever reached that level since, so to be playing tribute to him is quite an honour for Aljaz and I.
“We both enjoy dancing the American Smooth, and that era in general. The classiness of wearing the tux, white tie and tails, and the woman in a beautiful big gown…I think we really love the class and elegance that came with him and his time. We look back on a lot of his legacy for inspiration; he's a huge inspiration in everything that we do. Aljaz and I grew up thousands of miles apart, but that's the beauty of Fred Astaire; no matter where you were in the world you knew what he represented.”
And dance was the language of love that brought Janette and Aljaz to the alter. “When we first met, Aljaz had just left Slovenia. His English was quite good but limited. We were friends for five years before we went out - that came with a bit of a language barrier, but we had danced in the same show in groups.”
The couple married in July 2017, and their first dance was to Janette’s dad singing Michael Bublé’s You And I. “We didn't do any choreography together,” explained Aljaz. “It was just the two of us having a lovely dance. We didn't feel under pressure - it was a wedding, not a gig. It was a lovely, intimate moment.”
“I married the love of my life,” added Janette, “so that was pretty great! My dad recorded our wedding song and it was so beautiful I cried. My new husband in my arms, dancing with me and looking into my eyes, and my father was singing our song. I was an emotional wreck! Remembering Fred was a huge success, so I’m not going to lie, 2017 will go down as a brilliant year for us.”
“Absolutely,” says Aljaz, “seeing so much of this beautiful country and sharing the stage with Janette, dancing our hearts out night after night. The response we received from the audiences was incredible every single night.
“We played some incredible theatres, but the London Palladium was definitely one of the highlights as our families were in the audience. It was the first tour we did after four years of being on Strictly, so doing it again means we will have those beautiful moments to look forward to again.
“In addition, we are going to add to the production, so I think it's going to be another great tour.”
For 2018 the production will include new songs and new dances, along with the best of the 2017 routines and a huge LED screen creating a Hollywood studio feel to the show.
Janette also explained their hope to reach out to a younger audience who have grown up with Strictly but are not familiar with the legend of Fred Astaire. “We want to educate them and give them a bit of an insight about this legend who never dies and what he brought to the dance and film world. I think the new screen will be a huge plus to the show. Everything is just going to be bigger and better!”
Tickets for the show have sold out so anyone wishing to go along is advised to call the box office on 01926 334418 to see if tickets become available.