Christina Bianco's Blog: Excitement And Exhaustion
OK. I remember loud music, bright lights, cheering audiences, lots of tea and chilly ocean breezes. I'll have to get some serious sleep before I can focus on any particular details for you. Despite my best efforts to be practical, I got overexcited like I always do and jammed a little too much into this trip. The cost? Temporary memory loss and extreme exhaustion.
Before I begin this next paragraph, let me remind you that London is truly my favourite city.
However, everything would have been much easier during these past two weeks if I had been able to feel my fingers. This was my 4th trip to London but I didn't realize until now how truly schizophrenic the weather is! I was constantly reaching for a scarf that wasn't there; permanently stuck with my shoulders up, trying deflect the sharp breeze my Zara blazer wasn't tough enough to withstand. I know I'm a rookie who used to NYC's spring days being a muggy 75 degrees, but the speed at which a completely cloudless sky turns into a shower storm in London is astounding! When I come back in September, I'll be prepared. Because I'm bringing everything I own and I'm wearing it all. I'll just strip or add layers accordingly, during the day. I will be warm!
Now, what else happened? Oh, (in the voice of Celine Dion) it's all coming back to me now! I performed 3 shows at Royal Albert Hall's beautiful Elgar Room. Walking through the stage door of the iconic venue and watching my accompanist Joe Louis Robinson play the red baby-grand piano was enough to make me happy, but the audiences brought everything to another level. I was very fortunate to have full houses and the audiences were all warm, smart, fun, supportive, and a little rowdy! I couldn't have asked for more. Some audience members I met after the show even gave me gifts! (Most were chocolate. Should I be worried about that?) I'll always gladly accept gifts but you really don't have to bribe me - I'm coming back! Not only will I be back to perform in town again, but Cumberbatch is playing Hamlet next year, remember? As if I'd miss that!
This brings me to the sad news that, despite my best efforts, I did not meet Benedict Cumberbatch during this trip. However, I did see actor Mark Williams right before I hopped a train to Harry Potter Studios (perfect!) and I spotted the actor with the best Scottish accent ever, John Hannah, at Heathrow. So, that's a great trade-off in my book!
Then, there was the time Bonnie Tyler gave me a mild heart attack singing a line from Total Eclipse Of The Heart right in front of me, on national television, which happened right after I sang her hit song in front of her, on national television! Just another day at the office, right? I can't quite believe that's now a story I get to tell. My experience on The Paul O'Grady Show was just what you'd think - absolutely thrilling and hysterical! Paul was so kind and quick witted, even with the terrible cold he was fighting. The icing on the cake was meeting Bonnie. I never imagined I would ever meet Bonnie Tyler, a rock icon! My husband and I were chatting with her in the greenroom after the taping and I invited her to my next shows in London. She said she'd like to come, so I'm gonna start petitioning now for a full duet of Total Eclipse! Who's with me!?!
Once again, the theatre I saw here in London was brilliant. Since I can't talk about all the shows, I'll just mention that I particularly enjoyed David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People. We snagged seats in the 2nd row and watching Imelda Staunton up close, working through that emotional roller coaster, was an incredible acting lesson. At the end of the show, I was stuck to my seat in tears. If you can catch it before it closes, I highly suggest you go see this beautifully written and acted play.
Another standout theatrical experience was Derren Brown's show Infamous. I caught it in Southend, and as is likely to happen at a Derren Brown show, my mind was blown! I obviously can't tell you anything about what happened (except that the man is a genius) but I can tell you that I was lucky enough to meet Derren afterwards and he is one of the most kind and most charming human beings I've ever met. And that's no illusion or mind trick.
Finally, there's Velma Celli. Her show at The Hippodrome was gangbusters! Dancers, aerialists, burlesque, comedy, touching ballads and insane riffs - it had everything! Then, at The Proud Cabaret in Brighton, Velma and I performed together for the very first time. Velma (Ian Stroughair) and I get along very well so we knew we'd have fun together. However, once again, it was the audience's reaction that made the night special. Everyone seemed to love us working as a team and the energy in the room was electrifying! I cannot wait to unleash our duo show Divallusion to the world this summer at Edinburgh! If the audiences there are half as enthusiastic as in Brighton, I'll be spoiled for life!
Spoiled. That is truly how I feel. I had so many wonderful experiences in such a short time and I'm not taking a single one for granted. Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip so special.
I don't impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I'll pretend I do and say a deep voiced 'I'll Be Back' in September! I can't wait to find out what that trip will hold - and if I can survive in the fall weather. Right, I'm off to buy more wooly jumpers. See you in September!