Behind the scenes of Flashdance - The Musical at the Ipswich Regent with Strictly Come Dancing champ Joanne Clifton
PUBLISHED: 12:11 25 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 26 April 2018
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Strictly Come Dancing champion and actress Joanne Clifton takes me behind the scenes of Flashdance - The Musical at the Ipswich Regent this week.
Flashdance is one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s. Welder by day and club dancer by night, Alex Owens peers through the windows of the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy, dreaming of turning professional. But life’s not that straightforward.
It has a killer soundtrack - Maniac, Gloria, I Love Rock and Roll, title track Flashdance What A Feeling - remaining one of the best dance movies of all-time and a favourite of Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton who along with A1 heartthrob Ben Adams is tearing up the stage of the Ipswich Regent until April 28.
Q: What’s it like stepping into Jennifer Beals’ welding boots...
Growing up in a dancing family we know it very well. We watched all the dancing films – Flashdance, Footloose, Fame, Dirty Dancing – a lot. I’m definitely a big fan. I never actually re-enacted the role [growing up] but when I was frustrated or mad I’d go [begins stamping her feet on the spot] which of course is from Maniac.
There are so many iconic moments, the water drop, the audition dance at the end. It’s such an honour for me [to play Alex]. It’s a little bit of pressure but I try to bring my own to it which is Latin and ballroom so you might see a little bit of Latin in there.
I was so excited [to get the role]. I absolutely love musical theatre, it’s something I always wanted to do as a kid but I chose the ballroom dancing route and now I’ve gone full circle.
This is my second UK tour, they first was Thoroughly Modern Millie. I’ve done some fringe shows. One was Face The Music, that was my very first one. My character didn’t have a name, but I was a prostitute. Second one was Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jean The Musical. I did Top Hat over Christmas.
I like trying different styles, different things. I love performing to live audiences, especially a show like this which is a lot of dancing, singing and acting. I’ve got quite a few [dream roles]. Roxie Hart from Chicago would be high up there; Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady...
Q: Any particular challenges playing Alex...
Just before I go on stage I like to sing this really high bit which is in the first song so I know it’s going to come out when I actually do it [laughs]. Once I’ve done that it’s fine.
My main problem is I can’t ride a bike and that’s the first thing I do when I come onto the stage. I’m having lessons. It’s been nine months now and I still scooter along because I got good then, about four weeks ago, I fell off my bike on stage because I got too confident.
Q: You’re having fun...
I absolutely love being on tour. I love my cast. Everybody’s so amazing, now one of my best friends is Ben Adams who is my leading man [he plays Nick Hurley, son of the steelworks’ owner, who complicates life for Alex]. We get to see so many different places and our daytimes are free so we like to organise activities, go sightseeing and do some real touristy stuff.
Q: You get through some costumes...
I have quite a few; leg-warmers, leotards, 1980s style jeans, a big denim jacket with big shoulders which I hate. As soon as I get on stage I take it off and get told off about it. At the beginning of the show I’ve got quite a few layers on. I wear double pair of tights because [whispers] I’m 34 and I’m trying to hide my cellulite, hot-pant knicker things with a crop top, on top of that I wear a T-shirt with my jeans and on top of that I wear my workman suit because I’m going to do some welding.
I specialise in ballroom rather than Latin, so that’s long flowing dresses right down to my ankles like Ginger Rogers, normally dancing with a guy in a tail suit so I’m used to being covered-up. I was one of the only pros on Strictly who’d ask for my costumes to be longer rather than shorter. Now I’m finding myself dancing in my knickers on stage in front of thousands of people so that’s the way the world goes [laughs].
Q: You left Strictly in 2016 after winning with Ore Oduba, any plans to return...
Never say never, I did love Strictly because my family’s on there. I feel at the moment I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve, at the minute I’m loving musical theatre but I could go back at some point.
Q: Your brother, Kevin, has been in four finals but never won. Do you tease him...
Yes [laughs]. I now have two glitter balls because I won the Christmas special with Harry Judd and the main show with Ore so at Christmas when we’re back home in Grimsby I’ll be like “Kev, do you want to put the star on the tree or something sparkly, put it on the top. You can either have my Christmas special star or my glitter ball, you just see which one you want to put up there.”
They’re both in the flat I share in London with Neil and Katya Jones. Katya won last year [with actor Joe McFadden] so we’ve called it the glitter ball house [laughs].