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Strictly Come Dancing duo re-teams in time for the Academy Awards

BWW Review: REMEMBERING THE OSCARS, Online BWW Review: REMEMBERING THE OSCARS, Online Strictly Come Dancing's golden couple, Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara, return for a socially distanced iteration of their latest big budget production. The pair have toured every year since 2017 with homages to Fred Astaire and the silver screen before this tribute to specifically the Oscars became a COVID casualty in 2020. Timing this year means that once again hopes of live performances have been quashed. But never ones to sit back, Skorjanec and Manrara are offering fans an abridged version for streaming, featuring an elaborate cast of singers and dancers.

We're nearly halfway through our wait for another Strictly season, and Remembering the Oscars is a glossy show that will satisfy family audiences in need of their sparkling, sequinned fix of wholesome song and dance. Having attended all of the stars' touring displays to date, but also aware of the challenges in getting anything to the screen in a COVID world, I was a little disappointed by this light-touch taster, but it's evident that much passion and energy have been poured into creating it.

The main concern for fans of the married couple are the similarities to their Remembering the Movies tour from 2019, a dazzling show bursting with dynamic, high-energy performances and fully-realised segments that paid tribute to recognisable acts from the silver screen. Numbers from Evita and Romeo and Juliet are all revisited here and there are generous helpings of Disney and Hollywood musicals, while Manrara tests her vocal agility with a rendition of "All that Jazz". However, trotting out another Dirty Dancing routine, complete with lift and Baby's billowing skirt feels like something that has been done countless times, as feel good as may be during these bleak times.

There is of course much to enjoy, and under the direction of Gareth Walker, this TV special adopts a good pace, grouped together by Oscar category. Skorjanec and Manrara are charming, personable hosts and perform some touching numbers. They are at their best when left to be the sole focus, such as in the romantic rumba to "A Whole New World", and a dreamy "City of Stars" dance (worth seeing for Janette's glittering sandals) which glides beautifully across the stage. The pair are not a natural fit due to their height difference but their endearing connection is sweet and engaging.

Skorjanec also shines when partnering fellow troupe member Ash-Leigh Hunter, also seen in previous Remembering ... tours. Hunter is an elegant dancer and, with Skorjanec, sweeps beautifully across the floor in an emotive waltz to "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". The live vocals from Janine Johnson and Giovanni Spano add soul and depth throughout: Johnson steals the show in the Disney sequence with powerful renditions of "Circle of Life" and "Let it Go" while Spano looks to be having a great time in a showing of "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin.

The success of some of the full ensemble numbers will be down to taste. The Mary Poppins "Step in Time" romp complete with hops, jumps and thigh-slapping might be a little chirpy for some, and the Beauty and the Beast ballroom routine verges on the saccharine.

Strictly fans will love the evident passion and charisma from the leading couple and will no doubt lap up this teaser of what is to come in 2022. Purchasing a ticket to the stream includes bonus features such as a behind the scenes film and a full length interview with the pair.

With the next few months creating further uncertainty as to whether any of the Strictly stars will be available to their fans in person, Skorjanec, Manrara and their team have excelled in getting this mini-blockbuster to the screens. Remembering the Oscars is a heartwarming show, made possible by the peformers' palpable enthusiasm for their art.

Remembering the Oscars is live-streaming until 17 April

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