When asked to described herself, Christian Bianco said “Have you got 3 hours? Well, I’m a very short, very talkative, Italian New Yorker (who thinks she was a Brit in a previous life) who loves reading, cooking, baking, peanut butter, Benedict Cumberbatch & all sorts of music. I’m also an unapologetic divaholic.
Christina Bianco brings First Impressions to Assembly 1st – 25th August (not 12th)
First Impressions is coming to Assembly what can you tell us about it?
First Impressions celebrates the iconic music and style of the stars who’ve made lasting impressions on all of us. In this one show, you’ll see all of your favourite female vocalists and pop culture personalities, performing on stage together – through me and my many voices! They’ll be interacting, performing their hits, performing some of each others material and even performing things you’d never expect, like miscast movie quotes and television theme songs. I mean, why shouldn’t Paloma Faith singing The Flinstones theme!?!?!
I try to include something for everyone so the show covers contemporary artists like Adele and Ariana Grande, to more classic performers like Edith Piaf and Judy Garland. My fabulous Everyman Band and I will cover as many genres as we can, presenting these new renditions of beloved classics and also do a few spontaneous, audience chosen musical mash-ups.
So all in all, you get countless impressions, some songs in my own voice, some wacky ridiculousness and some serious moments. And it’s all done with nothing but respect and love for these great icons.
What inspired you to write First Impressions?
This is a simple answer. I love entertaining and I want to keep my audiences happy and coming back for more. So I decided to go back to the source material – to my first impressions – both in my awareness of these ‘divas’ and in my vocal mimicking of them. I wanted to create a show that honours the legacy these artists, not just for me, but for all of us.
How does this production differ to other works you’ve written?
I’m always looking for new, unique ways to showcase my impressions of these beloved celebrities. I want to honour them, but also make the audience laugh/smile/gasp. I think First Impressions achieves that balance more than my other shows because a great part of it is about the audience, and how these stars have made lasting impressions on them.
I’ll invite the audience to remember the first time heard they Julie Andrews or saw Shirley Bassey, and how that moment impacted their lives. This show celebrates individuality – not only of the divas but also of us, the audience who loves them and helped put them on their divine pedestals. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are, and vice versa.
Now, I’m not Beyonce but that’s how I feel about my audiences, on a smaller scale! I can only hope I make a good impression on them with this new show.
What’s the one thing about First Impressions that makes it different from all the rest?
I think it’s the healthy dose of spontaneity. I always like to have an interactive show and do a few unplanned bits, so it’s never exactly the same way twice. That keeps it fresh for me and for my band, and the audience gets a little sneak peak into the process of how my polished material is created. I also really listen to my fans and followers on social media and do some of their ‘Unlikely Interpretations’ requests. That’s when I take a song or piece of text and present it as a celebrity you really wouldn’t expect.
So this time, I’ll be switching up some of my miscast movie quotes throughout the run based on public suggestions. Perhaps Jennifer Aniston will recite Eliza Bennet’s monologue from Pride and Prejudice one night and Keira Knightely will do lines from Terminator the next. You’ll have to come more than once and find out!
How have the team at Assembly made you feel welcome?
Assembly has been totally welcoming and consistently so, over the years. I’ve worked with them twice before, once at my first with the duo show Divalusion, and then with my solo show Party Of One. They have been very also persistent! They knew I wanted to return to the fringe the past few years but my schedule wouldn’t allow for it but they kept reminding me that when I had time to return, they would be there for me.
That sort of loyalty is so rare in this business and I certainly don’t take it for granted. They have a great reputation for a reason and I’m thrilled to be a small part of the family this year.
They’re also very understanding and accommodating. I’m working in the states until the 30th – I fly (via London) that night, land in Edinburgh on the morning of the 31st and go straight into a very short tech. I was worried about the incredibly short rehearsal time so they are helping by running a longer tech the day before with my band and the technicians, who will be calling and video messaging me throughout. They are doing all they can to make sure I have the best product for the audience on August 1st.
Who will First Impressions appeal to the most?
Anyone who loves live music, impressions, comedy or all things Diva! My show is simultaneously a throwback to the great variety acts of the 50’s and 60’s, while being very contemporary. As someone who became popular on social media, I can’t NOT be tapped into current trends and the digital world! It can seem ridiculous to say that your show appeals to everyone – but my greatest happiness is when I see 3 generations of a family together in the audience and thankfully it happens a lot. Sure, each generation will find moments & references they connect to more than others, but the shared experience of celebrating these icons that span decades is a very special thing. I’m proud that it can bring so many types of people and so many different age groups together.