The married Strictly stars Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara have a two-hour live show lined up and raring to go, but until they can actually perform it, they’ve filmed a 60-minute screen version to give us a dose of light-entertainment sparkle.
Choreographed by Gareth Walker, a veteran of Strictly spin-offs, pop tours and the couple’s previous shows, Remembering Fred and Remembering the Movies (there’s a formula here), the Oscars theme is loosely applied. Mainly it’s an excuse for glam costumes, easy-on-the-eye routines danced to familiar songs (Singin’ in the Rain, Evita), and a jokey montage featuring Rocky, Flashdance, the Dirty Dancing lift and lots of mugging for the camera. Along with scripted interludes and extra backstage content, it comes with all the smiles, slick dancing and good humour you’d expect of two prime-time pros.
Highlights include a fierce samba, with Manrara’s fringed trousers making it look as if her swizzling hips are about to rotate out of their sockets, the romantic whirl of The Way We Were, and Škorjanec’s gallant bearing and floor-skimming footwork in his ballroom numbers, which are actually danced with Ash-Leigh Hunter (Manrara is too short to partner him, apparently). There’s some Fosse-lite, and the more contemporary dance bits, such as a Lion King number, are less strong, but the mixing of ballroom, Latin and musical theatre styles, and the pace, is never boring.
Along with a clan of back-up dancers, there are two live singers. Janine Johnson is fantastic, her voice sweetly pure or softly husky, and musical theatre veteran Giovanni Spanó holds his own on the dance floor. Manrara takes on some vocals herself, unleashing her inner vixen in All That Jazz, and she can really sing.
A lot of work has gone into the digital backdrops but there’s no escaping that this is a hastily reworked stage show. Fans will lap this up – the couple are eminently likable – but inevitably the show will be a more rewarding watch in its live form, ideally on a night out wearing your own glad rags, a couple of white wines down.