Interview | Joanne Clifton talks Rocky Horror

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Professional dancer, singer and actress Joanne Clifton is quickly gaining a strong reputation as one of the most versatile performers in the business as she continues to win rave reviews for her musical theatre performances. After appearing in Manchester recently as both Milly in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Alex in the iconic Flashdance, she’s now back to do The Time Warp at Manchester’s Opera House alongside her Flashdance co-star Ben Adams in The Rocky Horror Picture Show which opens tonight in the city.

We caught up with Joanne ahead of opening night to hear a little more.

Welcome back to Manchester Joanne, what a fun show to return with!

Absolutely, I am having so much fun it’s the craziest show to work on and I’m so excited to be back in Manchester, I can’t wait to perform and get back to my favourite places like Albert Schloss and Australasia too. I have really come to love Manchester, when I was doing Strictly with Ore I was training up here in Manchester and came to really love the city and he showed me so many amazing places. Plus working on this show is just so much fun, I really didn’t know much about it at all before I auditioned and I’ve come to love it so much.

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I guess you danced The Time Warp many times in your dance career, how does it feel performing it on stage in such an iconic show?

It’s brilliant, we get such a buzz from the audience too, I’ve probably been performing the Timewarp every Halloween since I was a little girl without every really knowing what it was so to perform it on stage with this incredible company is just wonderful. It’s such a loved show.

It certainly is a show which has cult following, how has that experience been for you?

In rehearsals our director Christopher Luscombe had told us to expect shouting out and gave examples of what we can expect at the usual parts where people shout out which we all found so funny but then when you are out of the rehearsal room and have a theatre full of people shouting out different things at unexpected times it’s something else. That’s what really makes this show so special, its fan base is amazing. Just looking out to the audience and seeing all the effort people have made and the different costumes they’re wearing, seeing different people dressed as your character and so many others is brilliant. I’ve noticed after seeing people being so daring with their costumes I’ve started getting a bit more daring with my clothes for press nights and things.

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Do you think the fact people can be adventurous and a bit more daring is part of the shows timeless appeal?

Yes, I think the message of just being who you want to be really is what we all want, what we’re all striving for and that message really speaks to people.

How is it working with Ben Adams again?

It’s great, we’re best mates so I knew we’d have loads of fun, we had a great time doing Flashdance and now this, it’s almost like we come as a package. We recorded a song from Flashdance which did really well and now we’ve recorded Damn It, Janet from Rocky Horror which is available on Spotify and Itunes, we’re also writing a musical together which we’re really excited about.

Your brother Kevin is about to star in Rock of Ages which we had in Manchester recently have you offered him any advice?

Not really advice as such but Kevin decided he wanted to try musical theatre after seeing how happy starring in shows has made me, we’ve both been performers from such a young age and we love doing that. Kevin had his first rehearsal this week and he couldn’t wait to ring me and tell me how much he loved it. It’s something that makes me so happy and seeing that convinced him to give it a try too.

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show tours the UK until 2nd November 2019. For tickets and venues visit http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Flashdance

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Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Francesca Eagleton

Get your legwarmers at the ready because Flashdance The Musical is in full swing at the Palace Theatre this week!

Not even the producers expected Flashdance to be a hit when it was originally released in cinemas in 1983, but, screenwriter, Tom Hedley has successfully taken on the challenge of adapting one of the most successful films of the 80’s for the stage in this all-singing, all-dancing neon extravaganza!

Alex Owens, played by Joanne Clifton of Strictly Come Dancing fame, is a feisty and confident female lead. Working as a welder in a workroom filled with boisterous strong males, she certainly doesn’t fade into the background as she knows how to stand her ground and make a name for herself. She shines in the role and commands the stage at every turn.

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Alex certainly doesn’t lose sight of her dreams of one day joining the Shipley school of dance, despite the potential distraction of falling for love interest Nick Hurley, (played by Ben Adams) and with a little bit of help from her tutor and mother figure Hannah, (Carol Ball) she makes steps to follow her dreams.

It was no surprise that Joanne Clifton’s dancing skills would be a real highlight of the show. Clifton’s stamina is extraordinary, one minute she’s kicking and splitting her way across the stage and the next belting out a ballad without even breaking a sweat. We were tired just watching her! A real triple threat performer.

Ben Adams makes for a hugely charismatic and enormously likeable love interest in the form of Nick, the on stage chemistry between the two is exceptional.

Fans of the original film wont be disappointed, as the show embraces iconic scenes including the infamous scene with Alex, a chain and a whole lot of water. The show also features hits from the original film soundtrack; Maniac and Manhunt – alongside original songs by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth.

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Cramming song after song into this toe-tapping musical forced the plotline, at times, to suffer a little, however fans of the film will know it’s not the deepest of plots. The second half moves the action on swiftly, packed full of high energy and fast paced – everything that we wanted and expected it to be.

Of course the audience aren’t left disappointed, as we finally get that all important audition scene. As the introduction to the title song Flashdance…What A Feeling began to play out, the crowd erupted, clapping and dancing along – earning Clifton and the cast a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the show.

Dig out your lycra  and catch Flashdance the Musical at the Palace Theatre from Monday 12th until Saturday 17th February, tickets available here.

Flashdance the Musical

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By guest reviewer Casey Nicole Gwilliam

Flashback to the 80’s in this dazzling production of the all time classicJoanne Clifton dazzles as the feisty Alex, a young apprentice welder with a passion for dance, and a dream to get into the prestigious Shipley School of Dance.

With the help of her old dance teacher Hannah (Carol Ball), Alex prepares for her Shipley audition, as well as falling for the dashingly handsome Nick Hurley (Ben Adams) and having to save the day and set her friend Gloria (Hollie Ann Lowe) straight, she seizes the opportunity and dances her heart out.

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The numbers that were amongst audience favourites included “Maniac” and “Gloria” as well as the crowd pleasing “I Love Rock and Roll” which wowed the audience as the immensely talented ensemble dazzled with their moves demonstrating some  incredible tricks that made the audience wince and then cheer. The entire ensemble gathered together and created an absolutely amazing and retro atmosphere, wowing the audience with their moves and vocals that left even the audience breathless!

The lighting and set along with the extremely vintage costuming hurled the audience into the 80’s along with the perms and pumps. The authentic 80’s feel gave a sense of nostalgia, and was in keeping with the 1983 movie of the same title. Keeping audiences happily entertained.

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Joanne Clifton’s performance stood out as leading lady, Alex. Her husky voice was perfect for the scrappy young dancer and her acting and singing skills were on a par with her dance; proving to be a delightful triple threat. As well as having the audience envy her for pulling off spanks and a sports bra for the majority of the show.

Overall the show makes for an extremely enjoyable evening and was an instant hit with the audience, everybody was up dancing during the finale mega-mix ensuring everyone got a chance to show their moves!

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Flashdance the Musical is on at the Blackpool Opera House until Saturday 4th November, tickets available here http://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

Behind the Scenes of Flashdance – The Musical – Part 2 Ben Adams

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As part of out Flashdance The Musical interviews we spoke to Ben Adams who plays Nick Hurley alongside Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens ahead of the show’s opening night this evening  in Blackpool.

Flashdance is associated with one of the most iconic dance scenes ever; will we see you throw some shapes during the show?

Ben: My character isn’t supposed to dance at all, he’s the polar opposite really to Alex the female lead who does a huge amount of dancing, I don’t really get to do any, I don’t think the producers knew that I could dance as there wasn’t anything in the script, although I do throw a few shapes at the end but it’s nothing spectacular compared to the rest of the incredibly talented cast, particularly Joanne Clifton her dancing is fantastic.

ON: The last time we saw you on the stage you were playing Aladdin in Panto, how does appearing in a musical differ to panto?

Ben: It’s very, very different, my character in Flashdance is quite serious, also American, they really are very different art forms, similarly though it’s a lot of fun, I’ve had so much fun doing this show so far, it really is a great role to play.

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ON: How did you become involved in this production?

I’d spent the first sort of six months of this year writing and producing for other artists, but I kind of felt that sitting in a studio writing things for other people to go and have fun with is something I could always do alongside other work and also something I can do as I get older, I feel at the moment I haven’t really got the performing bug out of my system so when Flashdance came along I though yes this is a perfect opportunity to get out there, tour the country and have a bit of fun while doing so.

ON: Sellador are known for their creativity, how have you found working with them?

Selladoor are brilliant, such an incredibly brilliant production company who are doing so well at the moment, the last production I saw of theirs was Little Shop Of Horrors which was absolutely fantastic, so as soon as I realised that Selladoor were doing this I knew it was an absolute no brainer, I knew it was going to be a great show.

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ON: Your new single has been getting plenty of attention, could a new album and maybe a tour be next on the cards?

Before I agreed to do Flashdance I’d already planned to do the album so I’ve actually finished that now and was going to put it out but thought maybe we should postpone it as I don’t have a lot of time to go out and promote it but now so much is done online anyway so you can really reach so many people online and through social/online media so it’s not really a problem, the album is now planned for the beginning of 2018 which I’m really excited about. It’s really nice to see what a great response the single has got as I think a lot of people in my position are maybe pushed into doing more middle of the road stuff, not necessarily tracks that are particularly modern but because I produce my own material I can really do whatever I want to do.

ON: We’ve noticed a bit of activity on twitter from your musical the Eugenius! account, can you give us any spoilers?

I can’t announce anything officially but watch this space for an announcement very, very soon! Make sure you’re following!

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ON: After your experience working with Joanne Clifton would you consider a stint on Strictly?

I actually did Strictly in Norway and I came second which Joanne likes to rub in because obviously she came first, I’m not sure I’d be allowed to do the British one due to already doing a version but I absolutely loved it. It was so much harder than it looks, there were things that I was doing that I thought looked good and then they judges just told me it was all wrong, I quickly had to buck up my ideas and really learn it as best I could. The discipline is unbelievable, it’s very tricky.

Speaking of tricks, you’ll be in Blackpool for Halloween, will you be playing any tricks on your fellow cast members?

Of course! I’m a 35 year old man with a 16 year old mind, so there will be a lot of that I’m sure, I haven’t quite worked out what yet but I’ll absolutely be planning something!

Flashdance opens at the Blackpool Opera House on Monday 23rd October and runs until Saturday 4th November for tickets head to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Flashdance – The Musical – Part 1 Joanne Clifton

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Starring Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton and A1 heartthrob Ben Adams, Flashdance – The Musical based on the classic film arrives in Blackpool next week as part of a UK & Ireland tour.

Telling the unforgettable story of determined welder Alex, who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, Flashdance promises to be an unforgettable night of entertainment. With phenomenal choreography all set to an incredible score including the smash hits Maniac, Gloria, I Love Rock & Roll and of course the famous title track Flashdance… What a Feeling, Flashdance will have you dancing in the aisles as sparks fly and love blossoms.

We caught up with Joanne Clifton ahead of Monday’s opening night to hear all about the show plus her thoughts on returning to Blackpool and taking to the Opera House stage.

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Opening Night (ON) : You have received rave reviews for your performance, what can we expect from this show?

Joanne : I absolutely love the show and I think that comes across to audiences, I think they can see and feel that, it’s such a different role to the last musical I did playing Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Alex in Flashdance is a tomboy, quite serious, sexy, a really strong woman. I’ve always played lots of comedy characters so I didn’t know how much I’d like playing someone so different but I absolutely love it. The only thing I can’t do is ride a bike and the first thing I do in this show is come on stage and ride a bike, I’m having regular lessons, every day after warm up I’m on there practicing, it’s so much harder than it looks!

ON: Flashdance is such an iconic dance film, everyone who knows Flashdance immediately thinks of THAT water scene, it the water hot or cold?

Joanne: It’s actually cold, I did ask could it be slightly warm as the first few times when it was coming down it was actually shocking me, but if it’s warm it affects the mechanics of the machinery, but I soon realised it’s actually ok as I have been dancing just before that happens so it’s actually quite refreshing.

ON: Is there an additional pressure to deliver something so iconic?

Joanne: Definitely, I felt a similar pressure with Millie especially as Julie Andrew’s had played it, but what I tend to do is I’ll watch the film once then I’ll kind of try and forget about it, so yes I have a link to that character but I’m playing it in my own way. So there is pressure but I enjoy the challenge of doing something my own way and creating my own take on that character.

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ON: You’ve played Marylin Monroe in Norma Jean The Musical, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie and now you take on the lead role of Alex in Flashdance, do you feel you have silenced any critics who may only associate you with Strictly?

Joanne: I do like the fact people may come to the show not realising that as well as being able to dance I can also sing, it’s nice to read reviews where people have been pleasantly surprised. I love to show people that I can do other things; I’ve been so lucky and enjoyed such great success with my dancing career that it’s wonderful to be able to show people that as well as dancing I can also act and sing and act.

ON: We have heard they may be a single in the pipeline with your co-star Ben Adams could a pop career be on the cards?

Joanne: It’s actually a song from the show, it’s the duet we do together in the show, we’re recorded it, Ben’s produced it so it’s a little bit different from how we sing it on stage, and we’re also filming a little video for it, all very exciting but I think I’ll leave the pop career to Ben and stick with musical theatre.

We’ve heard recently that you’ve signed up to appear in Top Hat during your Christmas break from Flashdance, you are literally the hardest working woman in showbiz!

Ha ha I’ll tell you something I literally haven’t stopped working since the 1st August last year, the 1st of August was when Strictly started so we had all our pro rehearsals and then the show started in September, then two days after the Strictly final was Thoroughly Modern Millie, then Flashdance rehearsals overlapped the final week of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Top Hat overlaps Flashdance, Flashdance then is back so my next week off is the 5th of March, I’m gonna take myself off on a plane somewhere warm and sleep!

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Not only do you ride a bike on stage but you also get a soaking each night, how do you look after yourself to ensure you’re fighting fit?

I think just the sheer amount of dancing I do in this show keeps me fit, I love it coz I really do dance a heck of a lot in the show, when we have two shows a day by the time I go to bed I’m really tired, I make sure I get plenty of sleep but the great thing is I can literally eat what I want, which is brilliant coz I love my food, sausage and mash, pie and mash, I literally can eat anything I want coz it all comes off!

Are you excited to be returning to Blackpool?

Definitely, it’s one of my absolute favourite places in the whole world and has been my whole life because I’ve danced there since the age of about six, from my ballroom dance career then Strictly it’s been a really important place for me and now going back as a musical theatre star, it’s really special for me.

You’ll be in Blackpool for Halloween; do your cast members play any tricks on each other?

Joanne: I’m rubbish at playing tricks because if I’ve done something you can tell, my face just gives it away but I’m hoping if anyone plays any tricks on me they don’t put anything in the water!

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Now you have committed into 2018, are there any other venues you’re particularly looking forward to?

Joanne: I think we’re going to Ireland which I’m really excited about as I’ve never done anything like this over there before so it will be a real adventure.

ON: Finally who would be your dream partner once Ben Adams finishes his run?

Oh heck, it’s going to be really hard to think of anyone else in that part because I get on really well with him so I’m secretly hoping that he will continue with us into 2018 because we have so much fun together, it’s literally a laugh a minute with him, he’s amazing to work with and I feel really lucky that I’ve found someone like that to be my leading man, I would really love him to stay.

Flashdance opens at the Blackpool Opera House on Monday 23rd Ocotber and runs until Saturday 4th November for tickets head to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/