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Nadiya & Kai: Once Upon a Time at Theatre Severn
14 Apr 2023

My Shrewsbury reviewer Ann Clarkson enjoys a night of glitz and glamour and superlative dancing at Theatre Severn with Strictly superstars Nadiya and Kai

It might have been cold, wet and miserable outside, but for one night only Theatre Severn was bathed in Strictly glitz as Nadiya and Kai brought their Once Upon a Time tour to the county.

The packed audience seemed to be a mix of Strictly superfans, dance purists and curious casuals - but at the end of two hours of stunning dance, great music and more than a little humour, everyone was on their feet in appreciation.

I fall into the casual observer category when it comes to Strictly, so before the show my knowledge of Kai and Nadiya extended to Kai is the son of footballer Tommy Widdrington and Nadiya is one of the show’s tall, blonde stars from Eastern Europe. 

By the end of the night I knew a lot more, including that Nadiya can sing and Kai can play guitar.

He is also hilariously funny and could make a career in presenting if this dancing lark doesn’t work out - although poor Steve in the second row, the subject of a show-long joke, might not agree!

The dances were interspersed with chat and video clips, giving a taste of the couple’s separate , “fairytale” journeys to latin and ballroom world championship glory and eventually the Strictly ballroom.

The set was relatively simple but brilliantly effective, with the use of LED screens to change the mood according to each dance.

The date in Shrewsbury was something of a return home for dance captain Chloe Hewitt, who hails from the Cheshire/Shropshire border. The former Strictly pro, who shot to fame with AJ Pritchard on Britain’s Got Talent, was one of a six-strong backing cast of high-quality dancers - including Adam Brunyee, Jasmine Chan, Oliver Beardmore, Margot Weeda and Ruben Rodrguez - all with a string of championship titles and professional credits between them. 

A show with just these six dancers would have been brilliant - add in the uber-talented Nadiya and Kai, and it was stupendous.

Strictly doesn’t always show the professional dancers at their best, mainly because of the limitations of the celebrities they are paired with.

Paired with each other, the result is electric. As a couple on and off stage, the chemistry is a given, but the sheer athleticism and artistry of what they conjure up is stunning.

The highlight for me was the paso-inspired finale to the first act - who knew you could segue Britney into Gaga and still make it unmistakably Spanish?

Special shoutout to singer/guitarist Tomas Wolstenholme, who managed impressive vocals, great guitar playing and even a bit of fancy footwork to become an integral part of the spectacle.

The tour now continues its journey around the country. If it returns to Shrewsbury in the future, grab a ticket while you can.