Christina Bianco: Party of One

Thu 6th – Sun 16th August 2015

reviews

Bethan Roberts

at 14:15 on 15th Aug 2015

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Upon finding out she was a singer, people would ask Christina Bianco ‘what kind of music?’ which earned the smug reply ‘everything.’ Party Of One more than qualifies this statement, Bianco moving effortlessly between impressions of artists as diverse as Edith Piaf, Stevie Nicks, and, um, Iggy Azalea. She announces, in song, her ability to embody ‘every woman’ in her musical impersonations, and lives up to that claim in spectacular fashion.

Party Of One is an autobiographical narrative of Bianco’s discovery of her talent interspersed with an alphabet of impersonations from Ariana Grande to Zooey Deschanel via Britney, Cher, Duffy, and many more. Though Bianco telling her own story might on the surface seem a little self-indulgent, her ability to see the funny side of her experiences (case in point: transitioning from artsy student shows to the lead role in the Dora the Explorer tour) is endearing enough to counter any potential for egotism. Bianco is a thoroughly charming onstage presence, her bright and enthusiastic persona revelling in her talent and its possibilities rather than showing off.

This performance attracts a very varied audience, all of whom evidently have the time of their lives. The spectacle of so many and varied voices emanating from one small bubbly woman is endlessly entertaining, given so many have absolutely dead on accuracy, albeit slightly exaggerated for comedic purposes. Obviously not all impressions are equal, and when a slightly lacklustre Skyfall follows an absolute belter of a rendition of Goldfinger the woman next to me informs a friend that ‘she shouldnae ha’ tried tae do Adele.’ I’ll admit that in the two numbers at the show’s close – Catch a Grenade and Born This Way – I only recognised a few of the voices, but I’m happy to ascribe that to my ignorance of popular culture rather than a failure on Bianco’s part.

Perhaps the most enjoyable employment of Bianco’s talents comes with her creation ‘Unlikely Interpretations,’ wherein celebrities cover somewhat unexpected musical offerings – Bianco’s Julie Andrews covering ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J has made my existence indescribably richer. She is supported by a capable group of musicians, with whom she has amusing exchanges and occasional collaborations. The audience leaves impressed and enlivened by the talent on offer, and enamoured of the energy and wit of Bianco as both a singer and a comedic performer.

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Stephanie Young

at 14:22 on 15th Aug 2015

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On leaving Christina Bianco: Party of One, I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with the audience member in front of me who hailed the show as ‘phenomenal’. Glamorous Broadway performer and YouTube sensation Christina Bianco tells the story of her unique career as a musical impressionist. When repeatedly asked, ‘what kind of singer do you want to be?’ Bianco replies ‘every kind’ and in this show she utterly convinces us that she can be just that.

Her voice is remarkable, both for its musical quality and its transformability. It is easy to forget the level of difficulty involved in Bianco’s art as the shift between her own voice and that of one of the female icons she imitates is seamless. Nonetheless, the audience never ceased to be impressed by her act.

The smooth musical arrangement moves the aptly chosen ‘I’m Every Woman’ into an A to Z of uncanny impressions. It is ambitious, but Bianco transforms herself almost every female musical icon of the last century. She acutely identifies and subtly emphasises the unusual quirks of the artists’ voices for comedic effect, which is very successful, and often enhances the comedy through her facial and physical expression.

However, Bianco does not rest on her incredible talent alone to carry the show; she has intelligently structured her set. The balance of sung and spoken impressions is perfectly tuned, so we never tire of her Shakira or her Drew Barrymore, or even her Dora the Explorer; the A to Z is interspersed throughout the set so that the audience continue to look forward to the next round of letters. Her characters are not exclusively modern and, with impressions ranging from Disney to Broadway to Ariana Grande to Cher to Edith Piaf, Bianco generously caters to people of all ages and musical tastes. The transition between spoken word and song is harmonious, as is the shift from comedic to tender moments: the audience laughed out loud at Julie Andrews’ unlikely rendition of ‘Bang Bang’ and were unashamedly teary listening to the Disney theme, ‘When You Wish upon a Star’.

Her lovely interaction with the band and the audience, and the quality of her polished, varied performance make Christina Bianco instantly lovable. Frankly, she could put Jessie J and the plethora of other singers she imitates out of a job. If you hate music, this might not be the show for you. As for me, I felt genuinely sad to reach the letter Z.

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