A new show celebrating the golden age of Hollywood – with a special tribute to one of its greatest dancers and choreographers – is coming to Scotland.
Remembering Fred is a musical spectacular created by the producer of Darcey Bussell’s and Katherine Jenkins’ Viva La Diva.
The 50-date tour toasts the music and dance routines of a true American icon – Fred Astaire.
Astaire was a legendary American dancer, singer, actor and choreographer and his stage and subsequent film and television careers spanned a total of 76 years.
During that time, he starred in 31 musical films, appeared in several television specials and made countless recordings.
As a skilled dancer, he is best remembered for his sense of rhythm, his perfectionism and as the dance partner and on-screen romantic interest of Ginger Rogers, with whom he co-starred in a series of Hollywood musicals.
He was widely regarded as one of the best ever dancers with fellow performer Gene Kelly acknowledging that “the history of dance on film begins with Astaire”.
Later on, he reportedly said that Astaire was “the only one of today’s dancers who will be remembered”.
And this new show echoes those sentiments by paying tribute to Fred Astaire’s enduring legacy.
This month Remembering Fred will be staged at the Glasgow Pavilion (May 19); the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh (May 21); His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen (May 22); and the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline (May 23).
Remembering Fred offers the audience a magical evening of top hats and tales from some of his biggest showbiz fans including his best known dance partner Ginger Rogers, Darcey Bussell, his daughter Ava Astaire, Gene Kelly, Irving Berlin and Twiggy, among others, who talk about how the legendary artist touched their lives and what made him so special.
The unique show features Strictly Come Dancing stars Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec who are performing classics from the American Songbook, written by the likes of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. They are backed by a full supporting cast of dancers, a live band and singers.
Remembering Fred will feature all the favourite Fred Astaire numbers such as They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Night and Day, S’Wonderful, Cheek to Cheek, Puttin’ On The Ritz, Let’s Face The Music and Dance, The Way You Look Tonight, Top Hat, White Tie & Tail and many others.
Aljaz and Janette said they are really looking forward to bringing the special musical tribute to audiences north of the border:
“Fred Astaire is an inspiration to every dancer we know,” they said.
“We are excited to be headlining a show paying tribute to this unique Hollywood legend. We will celebrate Fred’s dancing, choreography, most memorable songs and films, as well as his poise and elegance and what made him such an icon of the 20th century.
“And just like Fred, we will be doing it big, doing it right and doing it with style!”
Janette went on to explain how the couple got involved.
She said: “When they approached us to do this and they were talking about creating a live show in honour of Fred Astaire – his music, singing and dancing – Aljaz and I immediately said we wanted to do it.
“We are huge fans of his work. He was iconic to so many dancers, such a pioneer and he changed things for us.
“He inspired so many dancers who came after him.”
Describing what audiences can expect from Remembering Fred, she said: “There will be four tap dances and we might attempt some of them!
“We are planning such a lovely evening – a celebration of Fred Astaire.
“There is no plotline but it will be similar to BBC Friday Night Is Music Night – so there will be a narration about Fred, his songs and movies and people will talk about their favourite moments, which will then be performed.
“We will also have celebrities being interviewed about their favourite Fred Astaire moments – including Anton, Len, Darcy, Alijaz and myself – recorded over the last few months.
“We’re 100 per cent looking forward to the show and we are so excited!”
She continued: “Fred and Ginger created the American Smooth which audiences will have seen being performed on Strictly.
“There will be a Strictly feel to the show but it will be our own interpretation of Fred’s iconic routines.”
But will Janette and Aljaz be re-creating Astaire’s famous dances for the show?
Janette revealed why they won’t be an exact replica.
“It would be way too much pressure on Aljaz and I to try to copy Fred and Ginger’s dances, so we won’t be trying to be Fred and Ginger.
“Rather we will be paying homage to them through our own interpretations.”
The American professional dancer said Fred Astaire has always been a source of inspiration when she has been choreographing her own performances.
“I always go back to Fred Astaire films when I want to get the creative juices flowing,” she said.
“He was a genius, especially the way he would use props like a walking stick – it was like he was dancing with another person.”
Janette and Aljaz, who are hoping to get married this summer, enjoy dancing together and there are particular numbers Janette is looking forward to performing with her husband-to-be.
She said: “Aljaz and I love dancing together so Cheek to Cheek will be special. We love the moment in that movie when Fred and Ginger are in heaven when they are dancing.
“Aljaz and I are in love so we are looking forward to dancing to that
Janette enjoys touring with shows like Remembering Fred.
“I am always trying to get my hands on different projects because I love the creative process,” she said.
“I love the idea of creativity evolving and telling stories.”
The couple will be heading north of the border with the show, performing four Scottish dates, but what do they make of the Scottish audiences?
“We love Scotland,” Janette said. “Scottish audiences are the loudest and the most engaged; we can’t wait to perform there. There are a few places on this tour I have never been to but Scotland is one of our favourites.”
She added: “Aljaz and I just want people to come along and enjoy the show, which will remind audiences of how incredible and special Fred Astaire was.
“We want to make sure people are smiling when they leave the theatre.”
For tickets to the show, visit www.rememberingfred.co.uk.
About Fred Astaire ...
Fred Astaire (Frederick Austerlitz) was born on May 10, 1899. He was an American dancer, singer, actor and choreographer.
His stage, film and television careers spanned a total of 76 years, during which he starred in 31 musical films, appeared in several television specials and made numerous recordings. He was known for his romantic ballroom and tap duets and solos.
Astaire is probably best remembered for his sense of timing and for the magical pairing with dance partner and on-screen romantic interest, Ginger Rogers, with whom he co-starred in Hollywood musicals. Astaire and Rogers made ten films together, including Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), Carefree (1938), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) and the Barklays of Broadway (1949). Fred Astaire died on June 22, 1987 aged 88.