Let’s state some facts first: Christina Bianco is phenomenally talented. There are few in this vocal impression game who can deliver such spot-on, pin-point accurate impersonations. There are also few shows where you can hear Streisand, Garland and Minelli, Britney, Christina, and Celine, Menzel, Chenoweth, Peters and Lupone.
What sets Life of the Party from Bianco’s previous efforts is the inclusion of another diva – Bianco herself, finally singing in her own power-house voice and sharing more of her back story and influences. Though, it is her sensitive rendition of the show-stopping Santa Fe from Newsies that really leaves an impression (forgive the pun).
There’s still the unlikely interpretations – Judy Garland does Ed Sheeran to name one, a diva demands quiz, pal Jai McDowall doing a guest turn with Evermore from the recent Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast and Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald makes some bizarre appearances re-interpreting some unlikely movies: Gladiator, Dirty Harry to name a few. Bianco also throws in some highlights from her Broadway and West End turn in the long-running Forbidden Broadway and a flashback to the past with an old Betty Hutton comedy number.
The show runs at over two hours not including the interval and there’s so much bang for your buck. There’s also the fact that there’s such a warmth to Bianco, that the audience feel fully embraced throughout. If she’s playing at a venue anywhere near you, do yourself a favour and see her – the true doyenne of vocal impersonations.
There will be few shows you see this year with more content packed into them than Christina Bianco’s Party of One. The diminutive diva packs a great big punch in her latest show here at the Fringe.
Vocally impersonating an alphabet’s worth of female musical superstars, it is her takes on Julie Andrews (singing Lady Gaga) and the most accurate Cheryl (Fernandez-Versini) Cole you will ever hear, that steal the show.
Bianco is a considerable talent and luckily for us she also takes the opportunity to showcase her own, fine, singing voice.
She may have her own impersonators out there, but Bianco is the real deal.
Since 1981 Gerard Alessandrini’s hysterically funny revue, Forbidden Broadway has been delighting audiences with its pin-sharp parodies of the great and the good of the musical theatre world.
Known for its biting satire, (it spares no-one, not even the most beloved of performers or shows) it is, for the most part, done with genuine affection. This latest (specifically tailored for the West End) edition has transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre for a limited season after a successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory and it’s a laugh-out-loud winner from start to finish.
The cast sing, dance and act their way through a mind-blowing series of scenes at break-neck speed: The Lion King: “A story so bizarrey, it’s Hamlet on safari” and its cast resplendent in stuffed toy head-dresses crying agonisingly: “Can you feel the sprain tonight?”; a somewhat reduced helicopter scene from Miss Saigon and a “The heat is on in Saigon; is there a tune going on?”; The Sondheim parody “Into the Words”; a sweeping dismissal of Once: “once is enough”; Jersey Boys: “Walk like a man, sing like a girl”; Les Mis, where a bored cast member chats on their iPhone behind the barricade and ends with an “I’ll call you after I die,” Jean Valjean gives it welly in the too high bits and the infamous revolve is mercilessly evoked as the cast belt out a threatening “ten more years, ten years more”; the list goes on an on.
The reason the whole endeavour works so well is the quality of the cast, only those as, if not more, talented than those they parody could possibly get away with this: Anna-Jane Casey, Damian Humbley, Christina Bianco and Ben Lewis are all stars in their own right and each shines.
One word of caution though, the show is aimed squarely at musical theatre aficionados and a broad knowledge of both the West End and Broadway past and present is required to get the best out of it, so if you don’t know your Sondheim from your Miss Saigon then don’t bother. But if you do – don’t miss it.
Runs until 22nd November