The devil is in the detail, as the old adage would have it, and Christina Bianco has her own version of the Kander and Ebb song ‘Say Liza (Liza With a Z)”, having been previously introduced and referred to over the years as Christine, or otherwise Bianca, Bianci, Bunco, Banco, Banca (and so on). Whilst she is best known for her impressions of various artists and actors from stage and screen, for this concert she wanted to spend at least some of the evening performing as herself. And fair enough, she did just that, although the impressions came flooding through anyway before the interval, rattling through Barbra Streisand, Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, Miley Cyrus, Edith Piaf, Dame Julie Andrews, Shakira and Christina Aguilera.
Bianco has chosen to resettle in London, and there were affirmative words about how great the city is, which led to a question about winter. Songs associated with the Christmas season that are actually about the Christmas season should be limited to the Christmas season. But what about songs that are really about winter? Could festive lights be kept on a little longer than Twelfth Night? The winter season stretches meteorologically until the end of February and astronomically until 21st March, so why stop all things winter on 7th January? It’s a convincing line of argument.
Her musical director Ryan McKenzie had his work cut out, though he came across very much as an affable musician more than happy to take on a challenge. Some of the proceedings had an air of spontaneity about them, which was refreshing. By Bianco’s own admission, some of the musical offerings were songs that had been covered so many times by so many people already (I lost count some years ago of how many times I’ve heard ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ by Rodgers and Hart in concert). But her renderings are delightful to listen to and are evidence that familiarity does not always breed contempt.
As her concert was taking place close to St Valentine’s Day, there were also songs about love. ‘What is This Thing Called Love?’, a Cole Porter song from the musical revue Wake Up and Dream (never revived after its 1929 Broadway and London debuts) was featured, along with ‘Tu t’Laisses Aller’ by Charles Aznavour (translated by Fred Ebb as ‘You’ve Let Yourself Go’). The latter is about a man who has a drink or two to pluck up the courage to tell his wife what he really thinks about her. It’s a curious choice for a song under the theme of St Valentine’s Day – some of what he says is downright unpleasant.
The vocal gymnastics involved in this show is remarkable, especially given Bianco’s preference for impersonating divas (her choice of word), and she shifts from big name to big name (to big name, and so on) seemingly effortlessly. Not having a single overarching theme beyond it being her birthday week meant there was a highly eclectic choice of songs in this concert. But this meant the audience was able to see and hear what Bianco is capable of both stylistically and in terms of sheer vocal range – I don’t know of anyone else who can pull off an impression of Dame Shirley Bassey as accurately as one of Celine Dion. An excellent night out.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Internationally acclaimed singer, actor and impressionist, Christina Bianco makes her Pheasantry debut with her first solo concert in over a year.
Known for her versatile vocals and comedic charm, Christina will share an all new program of some of her favourite songs, in honour of her birthday. With piano accompaniment and music direction by Ryan MacKenzie, audiences will be treated to dynamic arrangements of musical theatre, jazz, standard and pop classics. The evening will also feature some of Christina’s popular impressions and ‘Unlikely Interpretations’, pairing celebrities with an unexpected material.
Performance Date & Times: Friday February 10th and Saturday February 11th at 8pm
Show Duration: Two 40 minute sets with a 15 minute interval.
Address: 152/154 King’s Rd, London SW3 4UT, United Kingdom
The Greenroom 42
Performance Date & Time:
Show Duration: 75 Minutes
Age Recommendation: All ages
Address: 570 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY, 10036 USA – Inside YOTEL, Fourth Floor