Remembering the Oscars
Online via rememberingtheoscars.com
Reviewed – 25th March 2021
“The saving grace is the opportunity to watch, enjoy and appreciate two of our finest dancers at their best”
The success of the long running television series “Strictly Come Dancing” cannot be denied, and it has to be commended for bringing the art of dance to a mass audience. Likewise, the many spin offs over the years have shone a light on the world of choreography. The professionals in this field are sadly often overlooked. There is still no Oscar for Best Choreography; a fact that is addressed in “Remembering the Oscars”, the latest dance show that is set to tour next year featuring the “Strictly’ couple Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara. Following their “Remembering the Movies” extravaganza which danced its way across the nation in 2019, the show was supposed kick off last March. Initially rescheduled for this year, it is again put back to 2022 – a sadly all too familiar story heard these days.
In the meantime, Škorjanec and Manrara have filmed some of the highlights for an online version while we wait. The real-life husband and wife duo celebrate the Golden Age of Hollywood with songs from musical films in, what they describe in the publicity briefs, as a ‘taster (sic) of what is to come’. Which is a very accurate description. The show has the feel of an hour-long trailer. Despite the lavish production values and the talented dancers, singers and creatives, there is a sense of being short changed. Škorjanec and Manrara offer snippets of slightly stilted, auto-cued narration between the dance sequences, yet there is little narrative beneath the gloss of what is essentially a sales pitch.
Fortunately, we can momentarily discard these misgivings, and become immersed in some wonderful moments. The couple take on most of the routines, joined by a roster of eight dancers and accompanied by Janine Johnson and Giovanni Spanó who sing us through a potted history of Oscar-winning songs, dances, movies and stars. It’s a crowd-pleasing choice of repertoire, opening with a medley of favourites even if it doesn’t dig too deep into the rich legacy of music in film. Even the Disney celebration finale’s only nod to anything pre-nineties was ‘Mary Poppins’.
But it’s the dance that matters, and fans of the Strictly stars will have plenty to feast on. A highlight is the all too brief homage to Bob Fosse where ‘On Broadway’ from his semi-autobiographical film ‘All That Jazz’ segues into ‘All That Jazz’ from ‘Chicago’. The choreography is solid throughout, with sublime moments breaking the surface to cause ripples of pleasure. Johnson and Spanó match these scattered gems with their fine singing voices. But overall, this is a show that needs to be seen live. Musically too, we miss the richness of the brass and the smoothness of the strings, which the synthetic arrangement here cannot quite replicate. The producers take pains, in the programme notes, to highlight that what we are watching on the screen is ‘just a short sample’ of what to expect next year. All the promise, the expectation and the focus are for the live show in twelve months’ time. Which is all very well, but it doesn’t make for a wholly satisfying pay-to-view streamed show. The saving grace is the opportunity to watch, enjoy and appreciate two of our finest dancers at their best.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography by Ryan X Howard
Remembering the Oscars
Online via rememberingtheoscars.com until 17th April
Reviewed this year by Jonathan: