From The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Paul O’Grady Show, and ITV’s The Imitation Game, the girl with a thousand voices returns to the Fringe with a brand-new show, First Impressions. The Fountain caught up with Christina Bianco about the show and her plans for the month.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how excited are you?
I’m sooo thrilled and grateful to be back! The past two years, I was very depressed that I couldn’t even visit during the festival, let alone perform. It’s one of the coolest experiences an artist can have. Doing your own shown and watching how audiences from all over the world react to it, being surrounded exclusively by artists and creators all there to celebrate the performing arts and each other – there’s nothing else like it. I’ve officially performed at the fringe twice before, and I performed in Edinburgh during the fringe when I launched my first UK tour, but this will mark the first time I’m doing a full run, all myself. I know it’s gonna be hard – especially vocally – but I’m ready for it!
TF: Your show certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
First Impressions celebrates the iconic music and style of the stars who’ve made lasting impressions on all of us. Imagine all of your favourite female vocalists and pop culture personalities, performing on stage together. They’ll be interacting, performing their hits, performing each others material or even things you’d never expect, like television theme songs. (Those ‘unlikely interpretations’ are my favourite part! I mean, how WOULD Gwen Stefani sound singing The Wombles theme song?) All of this happens through little old me, switching voices, characters and covering a wide range of styles and genres, with the help of my fabulous Everyman Band. I like to say that my shows are a musical comedy grab bag of fun and each night, some of it is left up to chance! Everything is done with love so there’s lot of heart along with the laughter. There really is something for everybody.
TF: And what drove the project, where do your influences lie?
My influences have been all over the map, from Broadway stars like Bernadette Peters, to comedic artists like Jennifer Saunders and Tracy Ullman, to pop stars like Celine Dion. Then there’s Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Madeline Kahn… the list goes on. So I try to create each of my programs in a way that not only showcases my impressions of these celebrities, but really honours them too. More than any of my previous shows, I think First Impressions really achieves that. Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery but I think that concept is too often lost. Yes, I’ll be doing close to 100 impressions during the show but it can’t just be about the flash. It can all become white noise if you don’t find a way for the audience to connect with you and the artist you’re mimicking. It has to mean something.
One of the first voices I ever heard and could easily recognize was that of Julie Andrews. She made a huge impact on me and is a great part of why I do what I do today. So during the show, I’ll ask the audience to think back on the first time saw / heard someone like Julie, what they mean to them, and how that celebrity impacted their lives. Whether it be Shirley Bassey, Edith Piaf or Keira Knightley, I’ll cover them all and am keen to learn about the ‘impressions’ these artists have left on others.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe? Having been before, are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
There are about ten shows I’m dying to see but I will heed my own advice here and tell others of pace themselves. Make a list of what you want to see, go out and mingle but always allow down time for yourself. There is a lot to see and I encourage first time performers to take advantage of the affordable tickets so they can learn and make the most of this unique experience. But you can’t do any of that if you’ve got the Fringe Flu. Take it from someone who spent most of her first fringe on bed rest. Pace. Yourself. I learned my lesson, so sleep and water are the two precious things I intend to get a lot of this time around!
TF: And what are your future plans, beyond the Fringe?
Oh, I’m very fortunate to have some incredibly cool things lined up! I don’t mean to be cryptic, I just don’t know what I’m allowed to say at the time of print here. But I can assure you that I’ll be spending a LOT of time performing in Europe, well into 2020. For someone who’s dream was just to do what I love and travel, I couldn’t ask for more.
You can see Christina Bianco: First Impressions at Assembly Checkpoint from 1st August – 25th August at 6:20pm. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com