CUE & A: Application Pending Star Christina Bianco on Her Dream Roles, First Onstage Kiss and the Art of "Doing Voices"

News   CUE & A: Application Pending Star Christina Bianco on Her Dream Roles, First Onstage Kiss and the Art of "Doing Voices"
 
Christina Bianco, who plays over 40 characters in the new Off-Broadway comedy Application Pending, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Christina Bianco
Christina Bianco

Bianco has become a worldwide YouTube sensation with her diva impression videos gaining over 19 million views, leading to appearances performing on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" and "The Queen Latifah Show."

She recently made her London West End debut starring in The Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre. Off-Broadway credits include Newsical the Musical, Forbidden Broadway: Goes To Rehab, Tony and Tina’s Wedding (Tina), Forbidden Broadway Dances With The Stars and It Must Be Him.

Other stage work includes Dora The Explorer Live (Dora/first national tour), Hello Dolly (Minnie Fay/ Indianapolis Symphony), Rent (Maureen/Weston Playhouse), Beehive (Riverside Theatre) and Malpractice Makes Perfect (Lucinda/The York Theatre.)

Name: Christina Bianco
Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born and raised in Suffern, New York. But it’s nothing like it was depicted in that episode of "Sex And The City." There were no farms in sight!
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
Who were you main mentors/inspirations when first starting out? Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Judy Garland and Maureen McGovern
Special skills: I can move my eyebrows independently, on cue.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Ice and roller skating. I actually sprained my wrist as a kid while roller skating in the house. Try as I may, all I’m capable of is gliding on my right foot and pushing with my left.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Cats. I really only remember two things about the experience: First, that I was very sick and stifling a cough. Second, that some actor in the show came up to me, meowed and licked my hand. I swear that this happened but it’s possible I was delirious with fever.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? I’d love to see the original Broadway casts of Into The Woods, Evita and Mack and Mabel.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: All ballads, except one! "What Did I Have That I Don’t Have" from On A Clear Day, "Funny" from City of Angels, "Not While I’m Around" from Sweeney Todd, "Maria" from West Side Story, "So In Love" from Kiss Me, Kate, "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. And this may be controversial… the film version of "King Of New York" from "Newsies."
Some favorite classic musicals: City of Angels, Crazy For You, Into The Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and West Side Story.
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Madeline Kahn
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Eydie Gorme, Nancy Wilson, Celine Dion, Martina McBride, Maureen McGovern and Marilyn Maye
Your personal comedic idols, living or dead: Carol Burnett, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Andrea Martin and Madeline Kahn
MAC or PC? We have our issues but I’m a faithful MAC girl.
Most played song on your iPod: It changes monthly but at the moment it's Paloma Faith’s "Can’t Rely On You."
Most-visited websites: Do I seem shallow if I say GoFugYourself.com?
Last book you read: "Finding Camlann" by Sean Pidgeon
Must-see TV show(s): "Veep," "Modern Family" and "Sherlock"
Last good movie you saw: "The Imitation Game"
Some films you consider classics: Disney’s "Beauty & The Beast," "The Usual Suspects," "L.A. Confidential," "When Harry Met Sally," "My Blue Heaven," "Waiting For Guffman," "Singin' in the Rain" and "Newsies"!
Three favorite cities: London, New York and Venice
Favorite sport/team/player: Figure skating! (It IS a sport!) This nerd will always love Paul Wylie and Kurt Browning!
First stage kiss: It was as The Baker's Wife in a children’s production of Into The Woods. I don’t recall the names of the boys (who played the Baker and Cinderella’s Prince) who gave me my first stage kisses, but I do recall not getting any more action for many years thereafter.
When did you first realize you had such a talent for impersonations?

My mother tells me that I was always "doing voices" from a very young age, but I didn’t quite realize it! When I was a kid, I’d listen to various singers and sing along, inadvertently taking on the tone and style of that performer. Mom would tell me to “stop singing it like the recording!” Eventually, I realized that I had a talent for changing the sound of my voice but I really didn’t take impressions seriously until about 6 years ago when I was cast in Forbidden Broadway.

Who were some of the first "characters" you mastered? The first celebrity I knowingly impersonated was Celine Dion. I sang like her at parties whenever her songs played and it would make my friends laugh. It was Bernadette Peters though, who I spent the most time working on and presented first at my Forbidden Broadway audition.
Of all of the various voice impersonations you're known for, is there one that is the most fun for you? The most difficult? Hands down my favorite impression is Celine Dion. She not only has a fabulously distinct singing and speaking voice, but she has the most unique mannerisms! It’s great fun to embody her and an additional challenge to master singing her songs in her original keys.

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The most difficult impressions are of more raspy, husky voiced women. I have a relatively clear voice so doing anyone with distinctive grit in their voice, like Stevie Nicks, is tough for me. I try to find a way to achieve the impression without harming my own voice.

Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I’m a sucker for Chinese chicken and broccoli with brown sauce and brown rice. The best is from Charlie Mom, downtown on 6th Avenue.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Throat Coat tea.
Most challenging role you have ever played: I’d have to say it’s playing Christine right now in Application Pending. I’ve never done anything like it before so I’ve had no reference for how to go about preparing.
What drew you to this new project and what has been the biggest challenge so far?

Part of what drew me to this play is also the biggest challenge for me - I’ve never done anything like it! I’ve done a lot of work in theatre playing multiple characters but this is different. To play over 40 characters in 75 minutes, all alone on stage, with no break, is very daunting. I have no one giving me a cue line and I have no one to help me if anything goes wrong (heaven forbid!). I usually memorize lines quickly but I’ve had to adjust my whole learning method for this play.

Leading lady role you've been dying to play: My top 5 are Fanny in Funny Girl, Dot in Sunday in the Park, Eva in Evita, The Witch in Into The Woods, LV in Little Voice.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I don’t drive. Well, I can drive but I still don’t have a license. How true-blue New Yorker of me is that, right?
Career you would want if not a performer: A sugar artist. I’d love to be a cake decorator.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:

Be proactive. Don’t just sit around waiting for auditions or for the phone to ring. Get out there, perform whenever you can and meet other people in all areas of the industry. This may sound cliche but sometimes the most rewarding work is the work you create for yourself. It can lead to great things!

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