We chat to Thoroughly Modern Millie star Joanne Clifton
Fancy being transported back to New York City in the height of the Jazz Age in 1920s? From Monday 17th April to Saturday 22nd April, Thoroughly Modern Millie will be bringing glamour and glitz to Leeds Grand Theatre – make sure you don’t miss it! Joanne Clifton will play the title role and is sure to capture the hearts of audiences everywhere. You may know her from her outstanding performances on hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing, and now she’s taking to the stage to portray Millie Dillmount, a flapper with her mind set on making it big in New York City. TSOTA were lucky enough to ask the star of the show some questions about her amazing career in show business.
As a professional dancer, you must have loved your time performing on Strictly Come Dancing? Have you had any other favourite jobs or key career moments?
I’ve had quite a few standout moments throughout my career. Probably the first was when I won the first British Championship with my brother Kevin when we were 10 and 11. For my family it was just a wonderful moment, having achieved something with my older brother. Of course another would be when I won the World Championships in 2013. Finally my 26 years of competing, working hard, sacrifices, tears, defeats, everything paid off. I stood there on the podium and thought… “I’ve done it.”
Have you always known you wanted to be a performer?
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. In long car journeys to dance competitions I’d mime along to Dad’s Marti Webb musical tapes and properly imagine myself performing them on a stage with facial expressions, arm movements, the lot.
What was your favourite thing about competitive dancing?
My favourite thing about competing as a dancer again would be performing or, rather, making the audience react. I never wanted to dance just in the traditional technical way but always put something different in there that would make the audience go “wow!” and applaud.
Now you have retired from competitive dancing, is the focus to perform in musical theatre in the future?
I’m the type of girl to set goals, do everything and keep going until I get it. Then once I get it, immediately set a new one. So as soon as I won, I made the decision to go back to what I dreamed of doing as a kid which is musical theatre. I started lessons again. Started small and worked my way up! So that’s the dream I’m following at the minute.
What’s your favourite musical? Is your dream leading role to be in that show?
My favourite musical is Gypsy and when I’m a bit older my dream is to play Rose. That’s my dream role. I saw Imelda Staunton do it and had to go back and see it another 4 times.
Why should the people of Leeds book tickets for Thoroughly Modern Millie? What’s different about this production?
Thoroughly Modern Millie is a fun frolic to help you escape today’s troubles for a few hours. It’s something for all the family to enjoy and you’ll leave the theatre singing the songs with a spring in your step! What’s different about our production is that we have the Mrs Meers character played by a man! Lucas Rush is so brilliant and it just adds a whole different dynamic to the piece.
Set in the Jazz Age of New York City, it must be a really fun show to take part in – what has the rehearsal process been like?
Rehearsals were everything I could have dreamed of. I was a bit stressed because they started whilst Strictly was still going on so I had to learn my lines on trains up and down to training in Manchester. But when I actually started and met everyone I had the best time as the cast are amazing and talented and the musical is just so much fun!
Thoroughly Modern Millie runs at the Leeds Grand Theatre from 17-22 April. Book your tickets here.