Christina Bianco – Me Myself & Everyone Else
The diminutive and divine Miss B is touring the UK following another triumphant Edinburgh Festival. Our August 2015 cover star and October 2014 interviewee has made quite an impression on audiences this side of the Atlantic.
Many impressions, in fact. If you haven't caught her on YouTube (and if not, how not – she's notched up over 20 million views and counting ...quickly) you can sum her up as the best and funniest impressionist of female singers in the world. But even that doesn't quite do her justice.
For an artist who spends most of her time performing as the great divas of this and previous eras, usually in quickfire succession as she tears through a single song, Christina shows few signs of divatude (is that the term?) herself. The songs are interspersed with stories of childhood and jetlag, and a great run through Randy Newman's 'Short People' - she may only be 4 feet 11 inches tall but Christina's a towering force onstage.
In fact she seems remarkably 'normal', sharing the stage with some fans in a game show interlude and recording a cellphone voicemail message directly onto the phone of the lucky winner in their choice of voice – in tonight's case, Babs.
Ah, single word stars. They're the massive divas who are known globally by just the one name. Christina blasts through them in a series of medleys, A to Zee (or is that Zed?). To name just a few, there's Cher, Piaf, Madonna, Marilyn, Rihanna, Dolly, Whitney and Celine. Her mouth changes shape instantaneously and she becomes yet another diva in a flash. Every now and again the divas are ditched and the real Christina Bianco sings, proving that she's every bit as good as the stars she parodies and so obvously loves.
Brit divas aren't forgotten – perhaps because of her Edinburgh successes Christina's built up a formidable battery of UK stars. The singers as well as spoken word artists include Shirley Bassey, Keira Knightly, Ab Fab's Eddie, Patsy & Bubbles, Adele, The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson and Amy Winehouse. Julie Andrews makes an appearance performing an inappropriate number, Jessie J's 'Bang Bang' ("She got a booty like a Cadillac" - oh really, Mary Poppins?") Apart from the hilarity it's deeply impressive, capturing the nuances of different British accents. Funniest of all is her Cheryl Cole – heck, most Brits can't do Geordie!
Expect the unexpected too. As well as the songs, there's a lovely section where unlikely stars read extracts from Barbra Streisand's slightly peculiar interior decor and personal improvement tome, My Passion for Design, and a previously unseen (for good reason) episode of Downton Abbey.
Christina's phenomenal rise started online and the live experience is catching up fast, so I'd advise catching her now in intimate surroundings before she starts to hit the arenas.