With First Impressions, Christina Bianco further cements her reputation as the First Lady of Impersonation. This is a rollercoaster of blistering talent from start to finish, and it’s no wonder this lady goes viral time and time again. From the moment Bianco steps out on stage, the audience know they’re in for a real treat.
Cabaret at its absolute finest.
Over the course of the hour, our star covers every single diva and major recognisable female personality from the last 50 years of music, and nails each one as though she were there in the room. Songs and impressions are mostly universally recognisable and always chosen perfectly for maximum fun and to show off her staggeringly powerful and versatile voice.
The show provides plenty of variety, packed with fun parodies and medleys. With recorded excerpts from her ‘impressionable’ friends and famous movie speeches in the style of contrasting actresses, there is truly never a dull moment here. She addresses the audience perfectly in each link, with a gravitas and rhetoric worthy of Streisand and Minelli themselves. An easily overlooked highlight for me was a short off-the-mic discussion with her live band before launching into an improv section. It felt like a magician revealing a secret, only to baffle the audience with a killer twist – all part of the schtick of course, but perfectly orchestrated, as if she was letting the audience in to her own private world behind the scenes. On the point of the band, the three-piece group are wonderful throughout, and even includes the multi-faceted musical comedian Laurence Owen, whose own talents also know no bounds.
Looking around the audience at various points during First Impressions, I was struck by how over 200 people had smiles transfixed to their faces as they looked on with awe and delight, regardless of whether Bianco was singing, talking, or even pausing between songs. It’s a rare type of performer who can have that effect on a crowd. This show is cabaret at its absolute finest, and is a strong argument for why this festival should have a dedicated Cabaret Award. If it had one this year, the faultless Bianco would be a shoe-in.