Joanne Clifton is probably best known from Strictly and winning the glitter ball trophy last year with Ore Oduba. What is probably less known is that she is a hugely talented actress and singer too. Her performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie was outstanding and now she is starring in Flashdance which is at Waterside theatre in Aylesbury this week.
Flashdance is a story about dreams and escaping your everyday mundane job. It’s a story about love. It’s a story about heartbreak and it’s a story about a passion for dance. Alex is an apprentice in a steel works. She is good at her job and admired by all her co-workers. But Alex wants more. She dreams of dancing at Shipley academy for dance. It feels like a distant dream but with encouragement from her friend she applies. Meanwhile the boss’ son takes a shine to her and she eventually gives in to his advances. Her friend Gloria has her own issues with boyfriend trouble and her yearning to be an actress or at least get on MTV.
Joanne plays Alex and is simply superb in the role. Joanne gives Alex attitude, but with a soft centre so we warm to the character. Her voice is beautiful and enjoyable to listen to. But her dancing… wow. Its off the scale! She is absolutely phenomenal. From the moment she is on stage she is warm and charismatic. She owns the stage and you cannot help but watch her every move. She is an absolute star.
Ben Adams plays Nick, the boss’ son and he is very affable and has a lovely singing voice. Younger audience members may know him as part of the band A1. He is a great singer and actor, but even he would admit he can’t dance to the standard of this show. At curtain call where all the cast do a signature move, he does a forward roll.
Gloria is played by Hollie-Ann Lowe and she is fantastic in the role as Gloria, struggling for fame. Her rendition of Gloria is melancholic and really gives dramatic effect to reflect her struggle. Her on/off boyfriend is Jimmy played by Colin Kiyani. Jimmy is keen to also be famous and dreams of being a comedian – he would even give up his job and Gloria for a shot at his dream. Colin is good at delivering those one-liners that are intended to not be funny. In fact instead of disliking Jimmy, you feel a bit sorry for him as Colin plays the part with warmth.
The show is set in the 1980’s and it true to the theme. At one point during Alex’s date with Nick, Joanne wears a green number with a ruffle and my instant thought was ‘Wow that SO 80’s!’. The songs have some original songs written for the show along with Maniac, Gloria and of course What a feeling!
The chorography needs mentioning as it’s the most outstanding I have ever seen. Maniac is absolutely breath-taking, as is Alex’s audition piece to What a Feeling. I would go so far as to say its better than anything I’ve ever seen on stage or Strictly. Joanne is exceptional.
The truth is any strictly fan will love this and there is no doubt that Joanne has taken this role to heart – she is absolutely living her dream!