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Christina Bianco In Divine Company review: The diva-holic’s show is her best yet

The impressionist extraordinaire returns to the place where she got her big break.

5.0 rating

By Simon Button

Christina Bianco
Christina Bianco In Divine Company. (Image: Provided)

There’s an old saying that goes “close but no cigar” for when something is almost but not quite right. That applies, I think, to Christina Bianco’s impersonations of Adele and Billie Eilish in her new show In Divine Company. But if she had to smoke a cigar every time she got a diva spot-on she’d have a terrible cough and a huge bill for Monte Cristos.

The two-hour show is her best yet. We get the usual roster of impressions from the self-confessed “unapologetic diva-holic”. Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Celine Dion, Shakira and Idina Menzel are all present and correct, among a dizzying array of other singers. But they’re often featured in unexpected ways.

Thus in a twisted tribute to Eurovision we get Dolly Parton singing Sam Ryder’s ‘Spaceman’, Shania Twain doing Bucks Fizz’s ‘Making Your Mind Up’ and Bette Midler camping up Lulu’s ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’.

Christina Bianco
Christina Bianco In Divine Company. (Image: Provided)

In honour of His Majesty King Charles’s coronation, Bianco does A.A. Milne’s poem ‘If I Were King’ as Mrs Maisel, Cheryl, Keira Knightley, Karen Walker from Will and Grace and a very giggly Elaine Paige.

Funniest of all, and in fact the funniest thing I’ve ever seen her do: A terribly posh Julie Andrews having a bash at Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’. Throw in a Bond medley and you’ve got a setlist that’s as wide as Christina’s range, and that’s very wide indeed.

“The two-hour show is her best yet.”

There’s more of Christina as herself than usual and that’s no bad thing. Her reworking of ‘Liza With a Z’ about people mistakenly mangling her own name is very funny. Having done Funny Girl in Paris, she sings ‘I’m The Greatest Star’ her way, not Streisand’s. And her rendition of ‘Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home’ proves she has the vocal chops to claim the diva crown in her own right.

When it comes to the impressions, they’re from a place of affection, not spite. She may parody Patti Lu Pone’s occasional slips into incomprehensibility, Kristen Chenoweth’s little-girl squeakiness and Bernadette Peters’ strange mannerisms, but they’re homages, not mickey takes.

Christina Bianco
Christina Bianco In Divine Company. (Image: Provided)

And Bianco is every bit the belter as her heroines. Her Shirley Bassey is astonishing, her knack for nailing Celine’s vocal trills uncanny, her mash-up rendition of Lloyd Webber’s ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ as emotive as it is hilarious. Speaking of hilarious, having Edith Piaf perform Abba’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is as side-splitting as it is note perfect.

The Menier Chocolate Factory holds a special place in the New Yorker’s heart. It’s where she got her big break in Forbidden Broadway and she revisits some of the highlights of her time in that revue (including the now legendary Peters pastiche ‘See Me On a Monday’). She also provides a preview of The Wizard of Oz, in which she’ll be playing Glinda at the London Palladium this summer. She lives over here now and America’s loss is very much our gain. 

Christina Bianco In Divine Company is at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, until 20 May. Get tickets here.