What a feeling for Strictly star Jo in Milton Keynes musical

Jo Clifton starring as Alex Owens in Flashdance
Jo Clifton starring as Alex Owens in Flashdance

Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Jo Clifton won the show and has been receiving rave reviews for her musical theatre performances, but you might be surprised to hear what has been the biggest difficulty in appearing in Flashdance.

Jo said: “The challenge is actually riding a bike which I do in the show. It is learning to turn round corners.

“I also did have a phobia of water a long time ago and now I get covered in lots of water. I had hypnotherapy to get over it but that was a long time before Flashdance.”

Flashdance can be seen at Milton Keynes from Monday to Saturday, July 16 to 21.

Flashdance - The Musical tells the inspiring and unforgettable 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.

Jo said: “I was very lucky in that the producers saw me in Thoroughly Modern Millie and asked me to come in and audition for Flashdance and was lucky enough to get the part.

“I think when you look at dancing films, and obviously I come from a dancing family, Flashdance is one of the big iconic films so it is a dream come true to be playing this part.”

However, unlike many actors who perhaps wouldn’t see their predecessors playing the role, Jo decided to rewatch the film.

Jo said: “I watched it once to get the general gist of who the character was and what she did. But from there I put my own stamp onto any character that I am playing. I am not going to be like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance in the same way that I wouldn’t be like Julie Andrews when I did Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

While she might be primarily known for being a dancer, she does have a background of musical theatre.

Jo said: “I did always have a desire to go into musical theatre and it was something I loved. I did Showboat with the local amateur operatic society back home in Grimsby.

“But after that, I went to Italy to progress my dance career and it went from there. But I went off to acting and singing lessons while I was dancing professionally.

“I think that I will be doing musical theatre now. I’m 34, it’s times to move on to a different phase of my career.”

Although she has moved on, she was happy to chat about her time working on Strictly on the main series with two very different celebrities in Scott Mills and Ore Oduba, who she went on to win the glitterball trophy with.

Jo said: “The first thing I had to teach Scott was walking ahead with straight feet, but you have to embrace what you are given in the show and hence why I ended up dressing him as a giant crab.

“But I’ve worked with a few different people on the show and if there was someone who could do a bit more, you would push it.”

But did she expect to win the series with Ore?”

“Absolutely not,” said Jo. “I realised that we were in the final with Louise Redknapp and Danny Mac. Our attitude is that we were going to enjoy the final and have a good time, but it was wonderful to win the trophy.”

She stars in Flashdance alongside former A1 star Ben Adams and Jo teased in the interview that she was working on something with him and to watch out for it very soon.

Tickets cost from £17 excluding booking fees. They can be booked by calling the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes