Joanne Clifton talks transforming into Princess Fiona for Shrek The Musical tour

From the Strictly ballroom to the swamp

Joanne Clifton is stepping into a new spotlight as Princess Fiona in the UK tour of Shrek The Musical.

The hit production will come to New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Monday, 30 October to Saturday, 4 November.

In a recent interview, Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton shared her excitement and insights about the role, her audition experience, and her love for musical theatre.

Brandon Lee Sears (Donkey), Antony  Lawrence (Shrek) and Joanne Clifton (Fiona)
Brandon Lee Sears (Donkey), Antony Lawrence (Shrek) and Joanne Clifton (Fiona) in Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

When asked if she was a fan of the original Shrek movie, Joanne gushed: “I just loved it! And then I went to see the musical on one of the previous tours and loved that.”

Her audition for the role was a passionate affair. She revealed: “I wanted it so much that I went into the audition and I didn’t let anybody speak! There was the director who I already had worked with before, Nick Winston, there was the casting director, the musical director, and the producer. I sat at the table and said, ‘Right, this is why I need this job…'”

And Joanne quipped: “I’m from Grimsby, I find trumping really funny. This is why I relate to Princess Fiona.”

Joanne’s excitement upon securing the part was palpable. “I was getting my makeup done for ‘It Takes Two’ when the email came through, and I was like, ‘Wow!’ And then I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because it was all under wraps.”

Regarding her research for the role of Princess Fiona, Joanne mentioned, “I’ve watched the film and have been listening to Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona on the soundtrack and watching clips of different actors doing the role on stage. But I’m stopping doing that now so I’m able to create my own take on it.”

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour.
The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour. Credit: Hugo Glenndinning

Transitioning from ballroom dancing to musical theatre, Joanne highlighted the different dynamics. She explained: “What I love about the musical theatre world, which is different from my dancing world, is that nobody is bigger than the show. Coming away from the stress and the pressure of competing in the ballroom world is so refreshing for me.

Shrek The Musical tour dates and tickets

“It’s teamwork in a musical: we’ve all got our separate roles and of course we want the lead ones, but even if you’re not a lead, you’re just as important because the show is the main goal. And it just makes me happy! I love that we have to go on and do the show to an audience of however many people and if anything goes wrong, we have to carry on. I love the adrenaline of that.”

As for her downtime during the tour, Joanne has an adventurous plan. “I love escape rooms, so I’m going to get a Shrek team together and get t-shirts made. I want us to get on the leader board at escape rooms in every place on the tour.”

Shrek The Musical plays at New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Monday, 30 October to Saturday, 4 November. Book tickets here.

Original interview by Jo Caird

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.