Christina Bianco impersonates Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga. She has to, because she’s already mastered most of Broadway’s biggest stars. Yet if you’re thinking that Bianco is some run-of-the-mill impressions actress, you obviously haven’t heard her sing. In addition to matching (and perhaps even surpassing) the vocal skills of the Grammy and Tony winners she impersonates, Bianco wholly embodies them—movements, facial idiosyncrasies and all. It was her display of these skills in the final incarnation of the cherished off-Broadway spoof fest Forbidden Broadway and currently in the ripped-from-the-headlines revue NEWSical that has made Bianco one of off-Broadway’s most valuable comedic actresses.
For most actors, it takes a few gigs before they find one that defines who they are as a performer. For Bianco, it was her first job in New York. Growing up in Rockland County, New York and attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bianco snagged a spot in Gerard Alessandrini’s final installment of the critically-acclaimed revue, in which current Broadway shows are strung through the satirical wringer, Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab in 2008. Although it earned her a Drama Desk nomination for her performance, Bianco caught the production at unfortunate timing, as the long-running revue series was concluding.
“I grew up listening to it,” Bianco said of Forbidden Broadway, which Alessandrini first created in 1982. “When I booked the job, I figured I had a job for life; I thought I could do it for years and years. Unfortunately, Gerard just had enough and wanted to do other things.”
However, a similar role was around the corner for Bianco in NEWSical, which has been running since December 2009 and is currently playing at the Kirk Theatre at Theatre Row. Rick Crom’s ever-changing satirical revue reflects the political and pop-culture headlines of the moment in riotous musical numbers. Currently, Bianco can be seen skewering Christina Aguilera’s butchering of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at this year’s Super Bowl, embodying an eccentric Celine Dion, and embellishing Lady Gaga’s passion for protecting the gay community.
“Forbidden Broadway was such an institution. When people see you in that show, they associate you with it for a really long time. That wasn’t a bad thing for me,” Bianco said, acknowledging that the similar skills of improv and satirical comedy required for Forbidden Broadway landed her the job in NEWSical.
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