Christina Bianco returns to the Menier Chocolate Factory stage with her acclaimed one-woman show In Divine Company for eleven performances only from 11 to 20 May. Witness all your favourite divas on stage together, in the singular form of internationally acclaimed performer, Christina Bianco.
Inspired by the divine divas of our day, Bianco honours their talents as only she can – by channelling their voices through uncanny and hilarious impressions – while also illuminating the path that led her to find her own voice and brought her from New York City to London.
Christina Bianco made her West End debut starring in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre. Tickets for In Divine Company are on sale here.
You’re bringing In Divine Company to the Menier Chocolate Factory, what can you tell us about the show?
Well, as in most of my previous shows, the main focus is celebrating the divinity of the great music divas of our time. Which I’ll do in various wacky ways throughout the show! But it’s also about marking the current, epic moment we’re experiencing in the UK this month – with a new ‘divine’ coronation and hosting Eurovision, both of which are bringing people from all over the world to our home turf. In the bigger picture, it’s also about how fortunate we are that we can physically be in each others company once again! And personally, I’m celebrating the fact that I’m living in England now and I’ve been embraced so warmly in every way.
As for the material, it’ll be healthy mix of music of pop, musical theatre & standards – often with a twist! Edith Piaf may perform a Eurovision hit. Edina Monsoon may recite AA Milne’s poetry. Sometimes it depends on the energy and response of the audience! I tend to switch up a few little things every night. It helps keeps me, the comedy and the show, fresh.
And of course, there’ll be countless celebrity impressions throughout the show, from all genres and eras. Parents can enjoy my impression of Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger, but I’ll also do Billie Eilish singing her James Bond theme for the younger people in the crowd. I really try to make sure that there’s something for everybody.
Last but not least, I always balance the singing between my own voice and the impressions. I think it’s important for the audience to get to know me well, because at the end of the day, all of these impressions are an extension of me and they’re all done with love.
What inspired you to create In Divine Company?
Honestly? A call from David Babani! I mean who wouldn’t want to do a run of shows in town, at a prestigious venue like this? But more seriously – when he asked me if I had a program I’d like to present, I was ready. I’m always making lists of songs, ideas and impressions that I’d like to work on and perform. I’m always trying bits of new material at nightclubs, events and benefits, etc. So this is a chance for me to finally give this new material some proper air-time, and to put new twists on some ‘evergreen,’ fan favourites.
Was it difficult trying to decide which divine diva’s to include?
Absolutely. I don’t like choosing between them but I know I can’t do them all! I sort of have a ‘must do’ list, that I start with. These are the celebrities I have to include either because they’re so incredibly well known, or because I’ve gained personal notoriety from doing their impression. Then I look at what’s going on currently and try to create material around celebrities who are in the press. It’s tough because I do have my limitations and I can’t always do who’s the most ‘hot’ at the moment. But I try to keep up with the times and stay topical. I mean, I have to balance the Barbra Streisand’s with the Miley Cyrus’s!
Do you have any favourite songs from the show?
Amidst all the impressions and silliness, I’m particularly excited about a relatively simple standard that I sing in my own voice. I’ve been working with my brilliant arranger Ryan MacKenzie on a beautiful version of I Only Have Eyes For You. I’m really settling into it and just love sentiment and style. Oh! And I’ll be doing a special Forbidden Broadway section for the superfans! It’s been a while since I’ve performed those numbers and I keen to dive back in.
Why do you think the Menier is the ideal location for this show?
It’s special to me because it’s the venue that gave me my theatrical start here in London. I performed in their production of Forbidden Broadway both at the Menier and the transfer to the Vaudeville. It opened so many doors for me and helped lead me to where I am today. Ultimately, it led to my living here! So it’s an honour to be asked back and trusted with a run like this. From a creative standpoint, it makes things nostalgic and personal, which can only make the show better.
I’m also excited about doing 11 shows in a row here. I usually hop from venue to venue with a show, so I don’t take for granted that I’ll get the time to cultivate it in one place. And the Menier is ideal in that its not too big but not too small, and not too fancy but not too casual. It’s perfect for my balance of serious and silly.
And although I know I’ll see a lot of familiar faces in the audience, the Menier will inevitably bring a new audience to me, who aren’t already familiar with my work. That’s always very exciting! Yes, it can be challenging too, but that challenge is why I do this. There’s nothing like live theatre and I can’t wait to be in the divine company of these 11 audiences.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see In Divine Company?
Well, there’s no other show quite like it, so why not give it a try? You’re gonna get comedy, music from pop to rock to jazz to showtunes, plus the chance to see all of your favourite celebrity vocalists and pop culture icons together on one stage – in one show – from one person. And she’d love to see you there!