Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton tells GLT’s Keeley Rodgers about the decision to quit the BBC show and about landing her dream role in Flashdance The Musical.
It must have been a difficult decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing?
It was because I love the show and I was honoured to have been a part of it. I have been wanting to follow the musical business dream since I was a child so I thought now is the perfect time because I doubt I’d get a win in the next series.
You talk about this being a dream come true. Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
I’ve always loved musicals since I was a child. When we were travelling to dance lessons and competitions my dad had cassette tapes of people like Marti Webb and Michael Ball and Michael Croft. We’d all listen in the car to all the songs which I loved. Sometimes I’d sit in the back and act them out and pretend I was performing them. I chose to go down the dancing route and got to where I want to be, but now it’s time for me to take the plunge into theatre.
You’re performing in Thoroughly Modern Millie at the moment, what has that been like?
It’s such a fun show. I love playing Millie Dillmount; she’s funny, determined, a bit loud and a bit of a hillbilly. I have been lucky to have a great cast and crew.
How did your role in Flashdance come about?
The producers came to see me in Thoroughly Modern Millie. They called me in for an audition and they must have liked me because I got the job. A lot of people don’t really know that I can actually sing and act as well. Some people are surprised at that.
What was it that appealed to you about the musical?
Everybody knows the film and for a girl dancer it’s a role that you dream of playing. I used to watch it and never thought I would be performing in the musical, I’m very grateful.
How are you going to make the role of Alex Owens your own?
I will be making it my own in some way and am waiting for the final script and rehearsals, which start on Monday. I’m also my own natural hair colour so I’ll be a blonde Alex.
How does being on the stage differ to performing on Strictly Come Dancing? Do you find it more challenging?
I actually find it slightly easier than just dancing because you get time to breathe, especially with the acting parts. I like the surprise from people but there’s a bit of pressure in thinking people are judging me as soon as I go on the stage. I love the theatre because you never know what’s going to go wrong and you have to just deal with it.
What can the audience expect from the musical?
Well, I do know that I’m getting wet during the iconic scene in the club!There will be water, lots of 80s outfits, hairdos, so much dancing, lots of leotards andleg warmers. Plus, I get to kiss Ben Adams!
Is this the path for you now or would you consider a return to TV?
I think so. I have been asked if I would think about going on other reality shows like some of the others from Strictly but I don’t think I would. I’m pretty clear on my goal right now. I’m living out my dream and my goal is to be on the West End one day.
If you could play any role on the West End, what would it be?
I have a few. I’d love to play Calamity Jane, Eliza Doolittle, Roxie Hart in Chicago and Sally Bowles from Cabaret. My ultimate role though, because of Imelda Staunton who is now my idol after her performance, I’d love to do Rose in Gypsy.
If you hadn’t gone into dancing or theatre, what other possible job do you think you might have ended up with?
When I was younger they asked in school what you wanted to be when you grow up. We’ll always remember it because of some unknown reason I wrote, and drew a picture, that I wanted to be a lorry driver who delivered mushrooms!
Flashdance – The Musical opens at Glasgow King’s Theatre on 5th August ahead of an extensive UK tour.
Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams will appear in Flashdance until 9th December, 2017. Casting for venues in 2018 TBC.