Professional dancer, presenter, actress, and singer Joanne Clifton has gone from training celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing alongside her brother Kevin to performing on stage in Flashdance and Thoroughly Modern Millie, earning herself great reviews and many fans.
Now she’s getting ready to do The Time Warp at The Opera House alongside her Flashdance co-star, A1’s Ben Adams, in the evergreen hit musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We caught up with her to find out more.
How did you get into performing?
I’ve always wanted to perform, not just dancing but musical theatre, from a very young age. I would sing in my bedroom all day long. On long car journeys to dance competitions I’d mime along to Dad’s Marti Webb musical tapes and I’d properly imagine myself performing them on a stage with facial expressions, arm movements, the lot!
Mum and Dad had their own school in Grimsby and we would go with them to their classes. Soon enough Kev got up and joined in and, because I’m the younger sister, I just copied him. Mum and Dad could see how much we loved it, so of course they let us.
They taught us the most important lessons that we could learn, which have got us to where we are today: the ‘performance’ is the most important thing. Move the audience in some way. Without them none of this would be possible. As for Kev, he has always been and always will be my biggest inspiration.
What would you do for a living if you were not performing?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lorry driver. I’d drawn my own lorry and everything which transported mushrooms. So that, I guess.
What attracted you to Rocky Horror?
I’ve been doing The Time Warp at our Dance School since I was four, so the thought of doing that on the actual Rocky Horror stage … Plus the fact that it is such a loved show and anyone who has done it will tell you it’s the funniest show to work on.
You worked with Ben Adams in Flashdance. Is that a help?
Ben and I hit it off right from the beginning. We quickly became best friends and have remained so. So much that we’ve also written our own musical together, which will be workshopped early next year. But I think the fact that we are so close definitely comes across on stage. Literally everybody comments on it and every review of Flashdance said it. It’s a great thing working together again and we also always know what the other is thinking.
What’s your favourite song in the show and why?
Damn it, Janet. It’s the lovely duet I sing with Ben where our characters are still young, innocent people in love with each other. We have released a version of it which you can find on Spotify and ITunes.
Why do you think the show has such timeless appeal?
Rocky Horror is a show about being who you want to be – and that’s what we’re all striving for.
What’s the best and worst thing about touring?
The best thing is all the exciting new places to see. The worst thing is living out of a suitcase.
What do you miss about Strictly?
All my friends and the family environment.
Manchester audiences are always described as lively. What’s your take on that?
I have performed in Manchester before with the Strictly Tour, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Flashdance, and I have loved it every time. The audiences are wild and it’s great.
Where do you hang out in Manchester when you come here?
Albert’s Schloss and Australasia.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is at The Opera House from 9th–26th January 2019.