Forbidden Broadway’s Christina Bianco on Being London’s ‘Most Annoying Anglophile’

first_img You also sing—and very well, too!—in your own voice. Do you flinch at being described as an impressionist? I wouldn’t say I flinch, because [doing impressions] has opened so many doors for me, and I enjoy doing it. But being an impressionist is only part of what I do; it doesn’t define me, given that I am an actress and a singer as well. What I don’t like so much is the word “impersonator,” because that suggests dressing up in order to be that person whereas I like doing the impressions with my voice and my face. You’re not going to see me dressed up as Celine Dion in concert any time soon [laughs]. In Forbidden Broadway, have you ever found yourself performing in front of one of the women you channel on stage? Not yet, but I hope that when the time comes they know that I really do it with love and that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And it’s quite possible what you’re describing will be coming up soon, since word is that Elaine [Paige] is coming to our show and I do have to do her. Have you been running around the West End seeing all the shows that you’ll be sending up? The answer, I’m ashamed to say, is no. I did the last five shows at the Menier Chocolate Factory [where this production ran through the summer], and then I had four days before I went into my own show at the Hippodrome so there wasn’t time. I’m looking forward to trying to get to whatever matinees I can so that I can see some of the shows I get to parody. And now you’re the lone American in the West End company of Forbidden Broadway with two Australians (Ben Lewis and Damian Humbley) and England’s inimitable Anna-Jane Casey. I’m so over the moon about this! When I did Forbidden Broadway in New York, I always thought that was the coolest job for an actor to have and I thought at the time, `Hey, I’ve got a job for life.’ I was so sad when it ended having had eight months with the show which seemed such a short time, so to get to come back and do it six years later – and in London – feels like a real “pinch me” moment. I am so grateful! American performer and YouTube sensation Christina Bianco hasn’t exactly been sitting idle since moving to London. Not only is she in previews for the West End transfer of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre, but she just concluded a sold-out cabaret run at the Hippodrome on September 7—the same evening, Bianco made a late-night appearance at West End Bares. Was she tired the next morning? If so, she didn’t sound it in her chat with Broadway.com, as her bubbly and savvy take on her ever-ascending stardom makes clear. Your cabaret includes an astonishing A-Z of impressions, from Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone to Shania Twain. Is there anyone you can’t capture vocally? There are a few people, like Eartha Kitt, who I think you sort of have to nail and I’m not sure I can. It’s about getting the right age in your voice, as well. I’ve been trying to do Angela Lansbury, and the age isn’t really in my own voice yet. It sounds quite forced, and if I’m going to do someone as brilliant as she is, I don’t want to make it sound as if I am in any way making fun of her. It was clear from your cabaret act, which I was at, that London is taking you to its heart. I’ve said this before, and it’s really true: I’ve always felt I was born on the wrong continent. I’m the most annoying Anglophile, so it’s been incredibly lovely to be embraced by the theater community here. You’re quite the YouTube phenomenon, building your career online in a way that wouldn’t have been possible for a previous generation. And what’s amazing is that I am still learning about it. I can’t believe that with a click of a button my entire career changed and that I could reach so many people around the world. [Bianco singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in 19 different voices has received over 6 million hits on YouTube.] I never thought I would have fans in Singapore, Beijing, Australia, and there’s a responsibility that comes with that.center_img I hope you get to do Bernadette in Forbidden Broadway—your take on her is especially brilliant. Yes, I’m doing Bernadette and Elaine Paige, who I’ve always loved, and Kristin [Chenoweth] again, reprising a number I did in New York but with updated lyrics. And I’m now doing the Idina [Menzel] “Let It Grow” number which is exciting because of the success I’ve had [on YouTube] with “Let It Go.” View Comments Are there any obvious candidates you’ve never tried to do? Hmmm. There are some where it just hasn’t worked because it’s difficult to ascertain what it is about their voice that you can pull out and exaggerate—Maria Friedman, for instance. But in terms of never trying? I’ve never tried to do Betty Buckley, which I know sounds silly. I will get on to that as soon as possible! Do you imagine possible Forbidden Broadway sketches every time you sit down to watch a show? [Laughs.] Yeah, I do—it’s unfortunate. I do that with impressions, too. It’s hard not to, since I have an ear for it now and a responsibility in that I can’t do the same impressions for the rest of my life. I have to change what the current topic and who the current celebrities are. It’s funny, when Forbidden Broadway first played London over 20 years ago, several British critics thought it was too mean. The thing is, [the show] really is all done with love. Some of the lyrics are more biting than others, but if what we were about was just complaining and being rude, nobody would come and see it. It’s all done with joy and respect because we’re actors as well, though at the same time, if something needs a bit of fun poked at it, then Forbidden Broadway does so. You’ve been having quite a time of it since crossing the Atlantic! Don’t I know it? Just yesterday, I finished the last of my three nights at the Hippodrome and was off immediately to a midnight performance at West End Bares. That was my first Bares experience, and it was so much fun and much louder than I could possibly have imagined [laughs].last_img

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