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Keeep dancing! Former Strictly finalists join professionals to show off their moves at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Previous Strictly Come Dancing contestants Maisie Smith and Rhys Stephenson joined the professionals for Strictly Presents: Keeeep Dancing! at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre, and it is fair to say they did not look out of place.

Cameron Lombard, Jowita Pryzstal, Max George, Maise Smith, Rhys Stephenson, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones
Cameron Lombard, Jowita Pryzstal, Max George, Maise Smith, Rhys Stephenson, Nancy Xu and Neil Jones

EastEnders actress Maisie was a series 18 finalist in 2020, and presenter Rhys made it to week 12 last year. As non-professionals, their efforts in teaming up – and keeping up – with Neil Jones, Nancy Xu, Camron Lombard and Jovita Pryzstal were more than commendable.

Also joining them was The Wanted's Max George, another of 2020's alumni. He was mainly there to provide the singing, but did join in for an ensemble dance at the end.

This show was billed as a behind the scenes look at the nation's favourite Saturday night entertainment show, told through stunning choreography and fascinating storytelling. And, while the end product was not what I expected, it was a great night nonetheless.

The Strictly insight was told via re-creations and re-enactments, of when they were called up to the show, when they met their partners for the first time and also their training regimes – all told via exciting routines.

Popular Spanish dancer Gorka Marquez was unable to join the tour. However, Cameron, a newcomer to the Strictly ranks and a South African Latin, proved a more than able deputy.

First half highlights included a group paso doble and Maisie and Neil, alias Smith and Jones, teaming up for a smooth samba to the sound of Gloria Estefan, while Rhys and Nancy danced a Viennese waltz to Boyz II Men's End of the Road.

Max, meanwhile, who has a better voice than I had given him credit for, belted out renditions of My Girl, Your Song and Mr Bojangles, the latter complete with Lombard dancing in hat and with cane.

The second half was dedicated to themed weeks, beginning with a Halloween number and the troupe's own version of Blackpool, though it has to be said Maisie and Rhys were more in sync dancing with their partners than they were singing together.

A mock dance-off, again featuring a paso, saw Maisie take the acclaim of the audience. The dance that received the best response on the night – and rightly so for me – was a sumptuous salsa between Cameron and Jovita.

It ended with all giving their views on Strictly, their pride at being a part of its phenomenal success story and what it meant to them to take part.

Max, who only made it through to week four, said it was a pleasure to be a part of Strictly and this touring show, while Maisie said it had given her a confidence level she never thought she'd reach.

But we will leave the last word to Rhys: "Just because the show's over doesn't mean we can't keeeep dancin'!"

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