For two years husband and wife duo Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara, professional stars of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, bewitched audiences in their show Remembering Fred, dedicated to the peerless Mr Astaire.
Their new show, Remembering the Movies, offers a much larger canvas on which to draw. It was dreamed up by Steven Howard of the TCB Group, who also came up with the idea for this show.
Janette said: “We met him over dinner and as soon as he mentioned Remembering Fred, we knew we had a little gem on our hands.
“And when we found out the tour would include a show at the London Palladium, I think we both shed a tear. It was a dream come true – and in front of our families who had flown to London from Slovenia and Miami.”
They feel just the same about this new venture.
So which movies can the audience expect to see represented on stage?”‘We had to do The Greatest Showman and La La Land,” says Janette, “because they’re modern classics. Then there’s Singin’ In The Rain, Chicago and Cabaret.
“One of the most exciting segments is a whole James Bond section. Aljaž is going to be my James, the most handsome Bond ever. And we couldn’t not include romantic films like Casablanca and Titanic”’
Performing live is a completely different experience from appearing in front of a Strictly studio audience, says Janette.
“Yes, you have the idea in the back of your mind of all those millions of people in front of their TVs at home. But nothing compares to the buzz from a live audience in a theatre.”
Aljaž agrees: “And no two performances are the same. Without quite realising it, you feed off the people out there in the auditorium and each audience is different. Each one is unique, each show is one moment in time.”
But all the tours and personal appearances would never have happened, of course, if it hadn’t been for the biggest show on British TV.
“We both joined Strictly in 2013,’ says Janette, 35, “and it changed our lives completely – and 150 per cent for the better.
“Up until then, our careers were in a sort of limbo. So to get to do the best TV show in the UK with my boyfriend and then fiancé and now husband… well, it doesn’t get much better.”
Do either of them experience even a tinge of jealousy when they see their other half wrapped around someone else on the dancefloor? “No”’ says Aljaž,”‘because, in the end, any passion is manufactured. Dancing is acting. It’s telling a story with conviction. But it’s not real.”
Janette is nodding furiously. “Funnily enough, Gemma Atkinson and I were talking about this when she was Aljaž’s partner in 2017.
“She asked me if it was all right to look into his eyes. I told her she must because otherwise how could she convincingly put across a Paso Doble, for instance?”
So, the Strictly Curse is a nonsense? Aljaž says: “If your relationship at home is secure, you have nothing to worry about.”
It also annoys him that all the professionalism and hard work that go into perfecting a dance routine can be overshadowed by superficial speculation.
Remembering the Movies is at Sheffield City Hall on April 10. Box office: www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk