Forbidden West End: Christina Bianco The singer, impressionist, Edinburgh Festival diva and YouTube megastar joins Forbidden Broadway in London. The American finds out how she got there.
hristina Bianco’s journey to the bright lights of (Forbidden) Broadway and London’s West End began in Suffern, New York. Forgive us, good people of Suffern, but The American’s team has never heard of your town. We’re sure it’s lovely. “It’s OK,” explains Christina, “it’s a small town 45 minutes from New York City. But many people all over the world think they know Suffern because an episode of Sex In The City was set there. Unfortunately they completely fabricated everything about it, except its name. They made it look like it was all farmland and wilderness. The must have missed the strip mall when they got off the highway! “Both my parents grew up in the Bronx, and when they got married they wanted to settle close to where they grew up. At an early age they realized how much I loved to sing and perform and they always supported and encouraged me. Being close to the city it was easy for me to see the theater and participate in summer programs and everything the city had to offer. I grew up in a very musical home, there was always music playing, of every genre. My mother is a gifted piano player, she was in a band in high school, but she never did it professionally. My father worked in radio
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so there were always cassettes and records and CDs around the house.” Italian-American families always seem to be musical. “Yes - people always ask me how such a big voice comes out of such a little body - I’m really short - and I say I’m Italian, we’re born yelling!” Most people will first have heard of Christina on YouTube. Videos of her singing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ and ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen in the voices of a myriad of divas have totalled nearly fifteen million views at the time of writing. She impersonates, among many more, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Adele, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Edith Piaf, Gwen Stefani, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Alanis Morissette, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson, Kristin Chenoweth, Liza Minnelli, Norah Jones, Patti LuPone, Shakira, Zooey Deschanel and, er, Sarah Palin. She had done a lot on stage before, but was YouTube Christina’s big break? “I posted a few for family and friends just for fun, as you do, three or four years ago. The ‘Firework’ one went ‘semi-viral’ and Capital FM radio in England asked me to do something for them. Shortly thereafter I was making my British
debut at the Hippodrome Casino, so I thought it would be nice - we’d book a few shows and cancel one if they didn’t sell. In August of last year I posted the ‘Total Eclipse...’ video and never did I imagine it would change my career so much. The Hippodrome shows all sold out and we added more. Treat yourself and take a look, and keep an eye on YouTube for her new videos. “I’ve always performed, but only recently have I added the impressions. Now my audience is not only cabaret-lovers, but young kids who like the contemporary impressions like Britney Spears, and an older crowd who know me from the Paul O’Grady television show in England - they like that I do Edith Piaf.” Christina does well over 50 voices and is adding more all the time - one new impression is the young singer and actress Ariana Grande. “I’ve always been such an Anglophile. I joke that I was born on the wrong continent. All the kids at school would rush home and watch Full House and Family Ties, and I’d be watching Absolutely Fabulous and Blackadder. I love speaking impressions too and I’m working on Miranda Hart - a very different voice from mine. Katherine Parkinson from The IT Crowd is my all-time favorite right now. [Christina gives a