Cabaret Festival

Interview: Christina Bianco – The Cabaret Festival is in divine company

Broadway and The West End’s Christina Bianco is set to perform for the closing weekend of the Cabaret Festival

You only need to type Christina Bianco’s name into a YouTube search to quickly discover what a remarkably talented performer she is. To round out the closing weekend of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Christina is bringing her much loved show In Divine Company to the Dunstan Playhouse.

Christina is a two-time Drama Desk Award nominee with countless stage credits to her name, including Forbidden Broadway (New York and London’s West End), Glinda in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard Of Oz at the London Palladium and Fanny Brice in the Theatre Marigny’s production of Funny Girl in Paris. However, it’s her sensational ‘diva’ impression videos on YouTube that she is most known and loved for. You only need to play one of these videos and close your eyes and you would swear you are listening to Celine Dion, Adele, Norah Jones and so many more iconic divas.

Glam Adelaide was fortunate to speak to Christina Bianco to discuss her show here in Adelaide. Music and performing has always played a huge part in Christina’s life, as she shared with us.

“I think mine is one of those stories where I was born with the bug, as they would say. I grew up in an incredibly musical home. I grew up listening to so many of the greats, like Edith Piaf. I always loved singing. When I was younger YouTube or karaoke tracks weren’t readily available, but there was my parent’s record collection as well as theatre. So theatre was the best outlet for my absolute crazy desire to sing and once I stood in front of an audience I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I am one of those performers that really loves feeding off a live audience. I’ve done a little bit of TV work and it’s fine (and trust me, the pay is great!) but I prefer to be on stage and I love that connection with the audience. Even if you’re doing a play and it’s that fourth wall you’re not breaking, but you know you’re there and you know the audience is there –– no matter what, even if you’re doing the same thing and saying the same lines show after show, It’s different every night and it’s mostly because of the people out there in the dark.”

We were curious to find out from Christina where she discovered this ability to bring these iconic voices to life and ultimately land her a job with Broadway’s biggest send up show, Forbidden Broadway.

“It came very naturally to me. My parents tell me that I would sing along to music that was playing in the house. I would sometimes just take on the tone and the style and the mannerisms of the artist that was singing. I had a good ear for it. Later on I still didn’t understand that I had the ability to do it. I remember my mom saying things to me like, ‘Don’t sing it like the recording. Sing it like you.’ And I just thought she meant in the phrasing and making it my own. But she meant don’t sing it like Bernadette Peters does. Just don’t do it! 

“I started working as an actor and doing theatre, auditioning for voiceover work and things like that. It’s an asset if you can change your voice to sound like somebody else or if you can do different character voices. I still didn’t think of myself as an impressionist. And then honestly, one day I was working on a cruise ship and I heard somebody get up and do impressions. And this sounds terrible, but I was sitting in the audience and I went, ‘Well, I don’t do impressions, but I think I can do a little better than that.’ My friend told me to give it a go. Not long after that, there was an audition notice for Forbidden Broadway. Forbidden Broadway was my all time favourite obsession. It started pretty much when I was born. I went to see their shows over the years and listened to their cast albums, I sang along to those cast albums, essentially doing an impression of the impressionist. So I went to the open call and they loved what I did and brought me back and I landed the job.”

This Friday and Saturday night, June 21st and 22nd, Christina’s show In Divine Company will be playing at the Dunstan Playhouse as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. 

“I will be doing something that is involving the divas because it’s part of my life, but In Divine Company, I always say, is sort of about treating all of us like the divine beings that we are. It’s about indulging in the things that make us happy. So, like any show, when you’re talking about a bigger theme, you have to bring it back to yourself to make it personal and have the audience connect with you. For me, my biggest indulgence is these great divas. They have shaped my life and so the show will celebrate and honour these great divas that span multiple genres, from Bette Midler to Celine Dion to some pop culture personalities who we love that aren’t vocalists. I love doing speaking impressions as well and so many great actors that have shaped my career in life. So I’ll be celebrating and honouring these great divas through song and sketch, but also sharing my own story of how they have shaped my life and ultimately led me from New York to London and then to the likes of Australia.”

Tickets for Christina’s Adelaide performances are selling fast – do not miss out on seeing Christina’s remarkable performance. 

In Divine Company
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Friday 21 June at 8pm and Saturday 22 June at 4.30pm
https://cabaret.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/whats-on/christina-bianco

Photo credit: William Ernst

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