Interview: Broadway star Christina Bianco (part one)
GT caught up with the singer, dancing and actress ahead of her Edinburgh Fringe performances...
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Some can sing, some can dance and some can act – but Christina Bianco is a quadruple threat with her chameleon-like ability to impersonate an A to Z catalogue of all the biggest divas. From Alanis Morissette to Zooey Deschanel, there isn’t a celebrity safe from her cabaret act. We caught up with the Broadway actress and internet sensation between gigs on her second UK tour at the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall.
You gained massive popularity for you viral video of Total Eclipse of the Heart. What's it like to be recognised on such a widespread media platform so fast?
I never expected that video to get so much attention. If you had told me that clicking one little button would reach so many people and launch my career I never would have believed you. It’s funny because I decided to post that on a whim. To me it’s actually quite a sloppy performance and video because it’s very noisy. I think the fact that it’s really organic and off-the-cut is why everybody related to it and why I think everybody liked it so much. So I took a note from that and I thought I would incorporate that into my shows and other videos.
You’ve had experience on Broadway in shows like Newsical and Forbidden Broadway. Do you ever plan to return to Broadway or possibly a stint in the West End?
Absolutely, I would love to that. I think it’s about time that I get back into a show. Of course I would love to something on Broadway in my hometown back in New York but really now my goal is to do something on The West End because the UK has been so kind in embracing me - It’s not every day you come into town and sell out all your shows. It would be a dream-come-true for me to be a part of West End show because I’ve always loved West End Theatre. As well as having a Broadway cast album I also have a West End cast album too. (Chuckling) I really am that theatre nerd. I’ve always been an Anglophile and gravitated towards British comedy, theatre, TV, literature and so to be a part of that history- that group of people that have performed on the West End would be a dream-come-true.
Is there a dream role you would love to play?
My dream roles... gosh there are so many – have you got five hours? [Laughs] I’m going to give you a tedious list. I would love to do Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Fanny in Funny Girl, oh and Evita in Evita. And here’s why I would love to do Evita; there’s a history of little actresses playing the role – Elaine Paige, Patti Lupone so why not Christina Bianco? [Laughs]
Do you prefer doing your own shows or taking part in large ensemble theatre productions?
I don’t prefer either, I love both equally. There’s a certain thrill of having your own show where I get to put it together and I get to play off an audience and it’s just me breaking that fourth wall. But there’s another wonderful feeling of a being part of an ensemble and playing a role and really transforming yourself. It’s great to do multiple voices and multiple personalities on my shows but it’s also really nice to take on one role and make it your own.
Watching the show, we got a real sense of the women that inspired you as a child – Celine, Barbara, Judy... Have you had a chance to meet any of your heroes yet?
[Long pause followed by a giggle] No, sadly no. Twice I’ve been in the same room as Bernadette Peters but unable to speak to her and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by pushing through the crowd - I’m waiting for a proper introduction. I can only hope that when I do, that they know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that when I do these impressions I really do it with love.
You mentioned in your show that you like to see bad movies. What are your guilty pleasures?
Not that they’re necessarily bad but my guilty pleasures are comedies like Zoolander and Shanghai Noon. Another one of my favourites is My Blue Heaven with Steve Martin. I’m an Italian-American and it has lots of Italian-American humour in it but it’s got great performances from Steve Martin and Joan Cusack and I adore them. Oh and The Holiday - it’s kind of stupid but I love it to death. I can watch it over and over and over again.
This may come as quite a shock but you have a rather large gay fan base. How does that feel for you?
I’m so grateful – my target audience [giggling]. I couldn’t be happier... it’s the perfect fit! I’m a theatre gal from New York and most of my best friends happen to be gay. It makes perfect sense as I celebrate a lot of the performers that a lot of gay men idolise. And I have to say it’s a really good test. As an audience they do their homework. And if I’m not doing it right then someone will let me know and that’s ok as I want to do these people justice and I want to make my audience happy. It’s truly an honour when a group of people discerning as the... how do I put this... theatre-going-gay-males tell me I’m doing it correctly, and then I appreciate it and that’s my gauge and I know I’m doing the right thing.
Christina will be performing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival and will return to the Hippodrome in London September 2014.
Words Luke Hearfield, @LukeHearfield
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