Christina Bianco’s show Diva Moments highlights her strong talents as a performer, both in regards to her versatile selection of artists that she imitated (“the highest form of flattery” according to Bianco) and the songs that she performed. That versatility also covers the types of performances she undertook – she had a larger repertoire in one show than some comedians and musicians have in half a career.
The show was divided into two halves – which was good, because not only did it allow for a change of costume in intermission, but it also gave the audience time to freshen up between acts. Each half was well crafted, balancing fun and amusing numbers with more “serious” impression pieces. The different “acts” of each half moved smoothly into each other, and ranged from singing parodies through to reading from a book written by Barbara Streisand as Barbara Streisand (as well as several other divas).
By the way, it turns out Barbara Streisand has a thing for design (exterior and interior). This show was educational as well as entertaining. Bianco also gave the audience homework, which was something not a regular occurrence in comedy shows. You aren’t even aware that she is 4ft 11” until she mentions it – she has a “larger-than-life” stage presence as well as powerful and captivating voice when she sings.
Bianco didn’t use much audience participation, instead she maintained a strong and very disciplined act which has obviously been polished and refined to a very sophisticated level of performance (as she said, she could do this “in her sleep”). It would be interesting to see how she compared the Australian audiences with her native New Yorker audiences. Fortunately there was enough audience engagement to keep the show interesting and lively. One thing about audience etiquette – try not to talk too much during the performances. If this were a pub band in a crowded bar then conversation is desirable, but for a show in a theatre try to keep it down once the show has started.
Bianco should also be commended for attempting (and achieving) a passable Australian accent. And her number where she spoofed Australian songs got a lot of positive reactions from the Melburnian audience.
Having at least a base understanding of several key “divas” in history (20th century onward), or at least their styles of performing, is central to understanding the show. Bianco covers a lot of different divas (from Billie Holiday through to Britney Spears, and many, many others), and even if they aren’t your thing, then the odds are you will know at least one of the artists. That being said, it is still an enjoyable show without that knowledge (there were some great parody songs, and the whiplash effect of some of the impersonations was quite amusing). It just would add to the enjoyment.
The show ended on a note which could sum up the entire experience – Bianco sand her now-viral rendition of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Fronzen. What made it endurable though (we are all frankly sick of that song) was the fact that for basically every new line she sang in a different voice. Quite a remarkable show, and definitely worth checking out. Head to Bianco’s website for links to her work, upcoming show dates and further information.