Sunday, June 23, 2024



Christina Bianco   In Divine Company. 

With Joe Louis Robinson at the piano. Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelide Festival Centre. June 21-22 2024.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Christina Bianco may not be tall, but boy does her voice hit the heights. Feisty or gutsy, smooth or soaring, Bianco’s vocal  impressions of the divas of song uncannily capture the unique quality of a Streisand, an Andrews, a Dion, a Minelli or a LuPone.  In Divine Company is a tribute to the amazing divas of song by extraordinary impressionist Bianco accompanied on piano by Joe Louis Robinson.

Musical Director Joe Louis Robinson

In an hour of impressions Bianco exudes a contagious energy and mercurial charm that instantly captures the very essence of the divas she mimics. The momentary glimpse of one of her impressions conjures an immediate connection in the audience’s mind with the artist she impersonates. Bianco is the chameleon of song, able to let the high notes soar and the raunchy notes erupt from a passion far within, but always with a respect and admiration for the singer.

In a tribute to Sammy Davis Junior Bianco segues through a variety of versions of I’ve Got To Be Me. There is the demure and practically perfect impression of Julie Andrews’ rendition of the song, or Gwen Stefani’s assertive version. She nails Shirley Bassey’s echoing vibrato and Patti LuPone’s Broadway musical  style. Her Barbra Streisand lets loose with chutzpah on the lyrics and one is aware of Bianco’s obsessive love of her art. She sculpts her art with affection and keen observation. With each familiar impression we are left to complete the image and the voice in our imaginations. Bianco emerges the Diva’s Siren.

For those who remember Liza Minelli’s Liza With A Z and Minella’s plea to explain the pronunciation of her name, Bianco adapts Marvin Hamlisch’s lyrics to describe in Minelli’s inimitable fashion the confusions that can exist in the pronunciation and spelling of Christina  not Christine and Bianco not Bianca.

For any lovers of musical theatre, Bianco’s performances are a joyful trip down Memory Lane. Occasionally she will vacate the impression to allow space for Christina Bianco’s extraordinary talent to shine through as it did when she played Fanny Brice in a Paris production of Funny Girl. Bianco is a consummate entertainer, a delightful comedienne and a singer of immense versatility, range and character. There were times when I longed for a complete rendition of an impression. Her love of Andrew Lloyd-Webber did offer this with her performance of As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard.

In Divine Company is a glorious indulgence in the magical talent of the diva and the composers and lyricists who set their flames alight. Bianco’s tribute in impression is a roll call of divine talents, the familiar and the famous, the songstresses of Broadway or the chanteuses of the silver screen. And among them all, Bette Midler, Gwen Stefani or Jennifer Anderson as well as your Streisand and your Celine Dion is Christina Bianco the slight entertainer with the giant personality.

Her farewell was her own rendition of Carol Burnett’s farewell to the audience at the end of her TV show.  “I’m so glad we had this time together …Enjoy.”  And we did!

Bianco has left Adelaide but you can still catch her at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney from June 24th – 27th  Later in the year Bianco will take on the role of Ado Annie, the”girl who cain’t say no” in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma in London’s West End when audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy this brilliantly comical entertainer’s own sparkling talent. Let’s hope for another early return to Australia.

Photos: Claudio Raschella