Christina Bianco has Tea With Wilma chatting about her UK tour!
You are an established Broadway performer and comedy impressionist. Your YouTube channel has had over 23 million video views! For anyone who may not know about your incredible viral video success story, what happened to catapult you into superstardom and even land you on the Ellen TV show!
Well, it all was a complete surprise that I’m sure I could never replicate if I tried! I had recently become recognized as an impressionist after starring in the long running, NY show Forbidden Broadway. That, in it self, was a shocking to me, as I’d only ever mimicked voices for fun, prior being cast in that show. After that, I was often asked to perform my impressions at various events and concerts, some of which I decided to put on YouTube. Through those videos, my theatre credits, cast albums, I developed a small but far-reaching fan base and was asked to perform at The Hippodrome in London. I thought, ‘Who will come? No one knows me!’ But just like that, one of the most off-the-cuff performance moments of my life, made all the difference. I decided to post a diva mashup of ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ that was filmed around midnight in a rowdy NYC nightclub. I initially thought it was far to sloppy and long to post but I decided to press that upload button anyway and within a matter of minutes, it was everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, all the biggest news and media websites. The widespread coverage lead to my selling out 4 shows at The Hippodrome and also it caught the attention of Ellen Degeneres and her team. Getting the phone call that Ellen wanted me on her show was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Only matched by later performing ‘Total Eclipse’ on The Paul O’Grady Show in front of Bonnie Tyler herself. One fabulous thing has led to the next and I’m just so grateful that everything fell into place as it has!
You are currently back in the UK on an extensive UK Tour which started in Edinburgh and goes all around the country including three sold out shows in London. How will this show differ from previous solo shows we have seen you in? (and which stop on the tour are you most excited about visiting?)
Well, it’s almost all brand new material, but I knew for this tour I’d have to include some ‘fan favourites!’ I’ve been describing the show as a ‘musical comedy grab bag’ of fun! Of course, I’ll be doing countless impressions of everyone’s favorite vocalists and pop-culture personalities and I always do some songs in my own voice, both serious and comedic. For this tour through I’ve added some sketches and taken the notch up when it comes my ‘unlikely interpretations’ and audience interaction. The most important thing for me in creating the show for this tour was to make specifically for these audiences. Most of the people coming will have only seen me online or on TV and without them watching and sharing my videos, a UK tour like this wouldn’t have been possible for me. So this show is my way of saying Thank You and giving them what they want. Quite literally too, as I’ve been asking fans for suggestions and the responses have been incredible! Some ‘unlikely interpretations’ suggestions from fans have been so well received that I’m planning to put a ‘best of the tour’ section now into my final performances in London and Brighton! That might make for a great new YouTube video I think…Hmmm…
You have often said that your favourite impression to do is of Celine Dion. But which impression has been the most difficult for you to master?
Everyone asks me to do Tina Turner and I just haven’t figured out a way to capture her yet. Even last night, after my show in Aberdeen, someone stopped me and hollered, ‘why no Tina?!?!’ It’s definitely frustrating when there is someone I can’t master because I pride myself on doing many impressions of all different kinds. But I do have my natural limitations and I just don’t have a raspy voice. So, celebrities like Elaine Stritch, Joan Rivers and Cindy Lauper will really only happen when I’ve already got a sore throat! And even then, I’d have to be careful not to hurt myself! BUT – I’ve been trying to work out a way to do Tina that doesn’t rely on her rasp and grit…we’ll all just have to see if/when it will be unveiled!
Who are your biggest inspirations in the theatre industry and why?
Above all, I just want to have a varied, lengthy career and to be respected by my audiences and peers. I’ve been very spoiled up to now, getting to play showy roles in theatre and singing with incredible artists in concerts and symphonies. I’m the sort of person that tends to go for the experience/role that appeals to me most, which may not always be the ‘popular’ or high profile choice. But I think it’s important to balance those choices and I’ve been trying to do that. So, after doing lots of leading roles Off-Broadway, I would certainly love to do a big flashy Broadway or West End musical. Then maybe sink my teeth into a straight drama before going off and do some more concert touring. I don’t believe a performer has to choose one over the other. I intend to keep working and changing and hopefully people will continue to give me the opportunity.
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I was in an Off-Broadway review called Newsical which lampoons the news and pop culture. I was playing Kim Kardashian and I entered singing, brushing my hair. The wig, however, was in very poor shape. It have no idea how it became so tangled but I put the brush through my hair once – and there it stuck. I tried take it out. No movement. I tried to keep singing and look calm as I attempted to detangle the tiny brush from the mass of matted wig but eventually I just dropped the brush and let it hang while I pranced around the stage. The audience was in stiches but it was obviously distracting for the wrong reasons. So, our very timid accompanist hollered, ‘Hey Kim’ and waved me over to the piano. He stopped playing, told me to hold my head and with a few big yanks with both hands, eventually tore the brush out of my wig – to a HUGE ovation! To be honest, the number was quite boring to do after that night!
If you could only ever listen to one more musical theatre song, what would you choose?
I love the opening sequence to Into The Woods. I know every note and every word that each character sings. I think it’s the best opening number of all time.
We are living in a time where films are often being turned into stage plays and musicals. If you had to choose one, what film would you like to see adapted to the stage?
That’s a very tough question! I wish the industry would promote more original ideas BUT I shall answer! I think something classic and comedic like A Fish Called Wanda or Soap Dish…I’m realizing now…any comedy that originally starred Kevin Kline! I’m imagining big song and dance numbers, extravagant costumes and a late cast of character actors…most notably a very versatile and petite
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
That’s an easy one. I’d choose the counterpart to the female role I’m dying to play, and that would be George in Sunday in the Park… (By the way, anyone in casting reading this in need of a Dot? Anyone? Anyone?)
Why do you think people should come and see you on your UK Tour?
I can honestly guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s not your standard concert, diva tribute or one-woman show. There really is something for all ages and types. If you like impressions, comedy, belty, jazzy or operatic vocals, if you wanna hear a rocking (and adorable) 4 piece band, if you want a look at how the cast of Absolutely Fabulous might interact with the cast of Modern Family, if you want play an interactive diva trivia game, if you long to hear Shirley Bassey singing a 90’s R&B classic…and of course, if you like short jokes… Then this is the one show you won’t wanna miss! I really love it and thankfully, the audiences so far have loved it too. I don’t want it to end! We just added the show in Brighton, which will now be our last stop and it’s sure to be QUITE the grand finale! So, I’d ask all of you out there contemplating attending to come along and share in this unique theatrical experience that all your friends who missed it will be jealous of!!
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma