Strictly champion Joanne Clifton loving the Flashdance challenge

Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens -  Credit Brian Hartley
Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens - Credit Brian Hartley

After eight months on the road with the show, Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton is still loving every minute of Flashdance – The Musical (Theatre Royal Brighton, April 9-14)

“There have been a lot of changes since it started, new things for this year.

“Because it was going so well, they have put more money into it. And I think we have just got better.

“I think now everybody is much more settled with the roles, and what is happening is that we can try out different things each night, just little things.”

Another benefit is that Joanne can eat pretty much whatever she wants.

“While I am talking to you, I am eating in a carvery! I have just got to eat lots. I don’t have to watch at all what I am eating.

“I can have lots of pies and sausage and mash and roasts.”

But yes, it’s tiring. It’s a massive role.

“But we have got the day. I can sleep in. I didn’t get up until 11 today.

“But it is a big show. I have got the audition dance towards the end, and then we take our bows and then we come back for the mega-mix.

“But it is great. We always get the audience up on their feet.

“The audience changes from place to place, and with the matinees, you tend to get the older people, but by the end of the show I don’t think we have been anywhere where we haven’t got everyone up and dancing at the end.”

Part of the fun is the fact that the character Joanne is playing is so relatable.

“She has got her dreams, and she can’t afford to have those dreams, so we see her work and work and work hard.

“It is her determination and her will to do it.”

For Joanne, the show comes after achieving all that she wanted to achieve in dancing. Now she is relishing new challenges in her new career in musical theatre – though Flashdance did come as a little bit of a surprise.

“I could have guessed from the title, but I hadn’t realised there would be so much dancing in it! And it is the opposite to what I usually do. It is a lot of 80s street dance, hip hop, things that I have never done before. I am a ballroom dancer.

“But I think if you have trained as a dancer, which I have, you pick up stuff quite quickly, but I have picked up a few injuries. In the second show, I popped my calf muscle, and I have got bruises and grazes and burns all over. It is doing the floor slides that does it when you are wearing fishnet tights!”

Not just in the dancing, but in the character as well. In her past three musical-theatre shows, she has played the quirky, comedy character – Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, a character version of Marilyn Monroe and “in my first one, a prostitute who didn’t even have a name.”

But in Flashdance, she is tackling an altogether more serious character – though of course, the show is still plenty of fun.

Flashdance – The Musical tells the inspiring story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer. When a romance complicates her ambitions, she harnesses it to drive her dream.

“She is a very, very determined young woman who has gone through a lot in her life. In order to save up to become a dancer, she becomes a welder. That’s the only job she can get, and she is working in a very male environment. She has got to be strong.”

Joanne can relate to her.

“But I relate to her in a different way. Her dream is to become a dancer, but she didn’t get all the training. I became a dancer and I got the training.

“But now my dream is musical theatre, and any money I can spare, I put into singing and acting lessons. Like her with her dancing, musical theatre is what I want to do…”

For other stories by Phil, see:https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

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