IT’S one of the golden rules of showbiz that’s drummed into every aspiring performer from the moment they start off on the ladder - if you get an audition, don’t go along dressed as the character.

“It can make you look a bit desperate,” admitted former Strictly winner and now well-established musical theatre star Joanne Clifton who returns to Manchester next week in The Addams Family.

“But that’s exactly what I did when I went for the audition for Morticia. I went full out - I straightened my hair, I put on a tight, long black dress and had pale make-up.

“I said I was so sorry that I’ve come dressed for the part and it looks really desperate but I am desperate and really want to play her.

“The director told me later that one of the reasons I got the part was that he liked the fact I was so desperate to play the role.”


Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams (Picture: Pamela Raith)

Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams (Picture: Pamela Raith)


The Addams Family is a musical based on the characters from the much-loved TV show and various movies.

Joanne, who won TV dance show Strictly in 2016 with celebrity partner Ore Odube, has starred in Flashdance, Thoroughly Modern Millie and the Rocky Horror Show on stage and she’s loving life as Morticia Addams.

“She is such an iconic character,” said Joanne. “She’s the very opposite to me in real life with her the calmness and being softly spoken; she’s the stern head of the family.

“I just got a nomination in the UK Panto Awards. I was playing the vegetable fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk and I’ve got to say I think I’m much more the vegetable fairy than a Morticia in real life!

“It is a challenge for me. I even change my tone of voice to be more Morticia-like - but I love her.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing fun-loving Joanne is keeping a straight face while all kinds of mayhem takes place around her.


Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams and Cameron Blakely as Gomez (Picture: Pamela Raith)

Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams and Cameron Blakely as Gomez (Picture: Pamela Raith)


“Cameron Blakeley who plays Gomez, oh I can’t deal with him on stage,” she said. “He has the freedom to be incredibly funny and he gives a master class every night we go on stage. Very often I’ll find myself biting the inside of my cheek to stop myself from laughing.

“He knows I’m an easy target and he tries different things out on different nights which are really funny to make me crack; it’s awful and we all break at some point.”

Playing such an instantly recognisable character as Morticia might prove daunting to some, but Joanne is relishing the challenge.

“When we started with rehearsals I was worried that Morticia might have to be the same all the way through the show,” she said. “But she has these different moment through the show where I can show different sides to her. As part of my research I watched a lot of the old TV shows and also the film with Anjelica Houston and the Morticias weren’t the same.

“I’m never going to be the same as an amazing actor like Anjelica Houston. but I thought that if she was playing Morticia differently then I could do that too.”

One aspect of the show which Joanne particularly likes is its appeal to a broad audience.


The cast of The Addams Family (Picture: Pamela Raith)

The cast of The Addams Family (Picture: Pamela Raith)


“I think a lot of people might think it’s just for kids and I was a little bit guilty of that,” she said. “I’d never seen the stage musical although I had seen the amazing reviews it got, But it really is a show with something for everyone and the whole show is just so funny.”

Given Joanne’s background as a dancer, she naturally gets to display her talent in an impressive tango with Gomez.

But what many theatregoers might not realise is that she suffers from osteoarthritis in both knees. Joanne went public about her condition late last year in a bid to reduce the stigma attached to getting a diagnosis.

“The message I wanted to get out was that it can affect anyone at any age,” she said. “When I was diagnosed initially I was embarrassed because I thought it was for old people but the more I researched it, the more I realised it can affect anyone – there are people as young as two who are diagnosed with it.

“If you are completely open and embrace the fact that you have got it you can work with choreographers and directors so that anything that gives you pain can be changed.

“A diagnosis does not mean your career is over. I know I had it long before I was diagnosed yet I won world titles and of course Strictly so I hope young dancers can be inspired by that.”

As she prepares to return to Manchester, Joanne is already eyeing up an end of show party.

“Manchester’s always one of my favourite cities to go to on tour,” she said. “We don’t drink during the week of the show but on the Saturday night in every show I have been in, we have always ended up in Albert’s Schloss, I love it - they even let you dance on the tables!”

The Addams Family, Manchester Opera House, April 19 to 23. Details from