Review: Christina Bianco Gathers Hearts During A LOT TO UNPACK at Birdland Theater

The singing actress's farewell concert is a home run that will keep her warm in her new home overseas.

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There are times in life when it becomes necessary to say goodbye to a friend. This can be a conflicting moment with which to be met, especially if that which takes your friend from you is something beneficial to them. Last night, a theater full of people said goodbye to Christina Bianco, and though there were pangs in hearts and tears in eyes, it is simply not possible for anyone to wish that the singing actress wouldn't go, for she departs New York City and her various families here for a land of opportunity. In a short time, "The Girl of a Thousand Voices" will immigrate to the United Kingdom, where she is repeatedly offered work opportunities as an actor and entertainer. Bitterly, he asks the blunt question, "Why were there not enough job offers here in the States?" because Christina Bianco is a performer who should not wonder for work, not one day in her life. Nevertheless, there were not enough job offers to keep the virtuosa stateside, so soon she will be having crumpets for breakfast in the land of Lady Mary and DSB... and those who love her are at the dock to wave her off in style.

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + StageChristina Bianco had A LOT TO UNPACK last night at The Birdland Theater as, in three short acts and fifteen musical numbers, she discussed her decision to depart, her quarantine creativity, her Fanny Brice moment, and all of the women who live in her head. Brilliantly and beautifully assisted (mightily) by Musical Director Brad Simmons, bassist Sean Murphy, and drummer Joe Choroszewski (as well as special guest and adorably supportive husband Billy Ernst), Christina let her hair hang down in conversations frank and straightforward, chats filled with honesty and humor, and generosity of spirit and heart. In her ninety-minute farewell concert, Ms. Bianco boggles the mind with more talent than any one person should be allowed to possess, reminding one of the variety shows of a bygone era when women like Carol Burnett and Kaye Ballard ruled the airwaves. The only difference is that the women who laid the foundation upon which Bianco's style of entertainment is built did their work with a cast of characters and actors around them. Christina Bianco is her own cast of characters, and though it is an honor and compliment to compare her to Burnett and Ballard (and Imogene Coca, Pat Carroll, Dorothy Loudon, Andrea Martin), and especially to refer to a famous TV special starring Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey, it is also rather an exercise in futility. Christina Bianco is that rare thing, the one that comes along only every now and then: Christina Bianco is a "One and Only" of The Business of Show - and last night, it showed.

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + StageThe first act of A Lot To Unpack devoted almost entirely to the discussion of the pandemic and Paris, Christina Bianco had an opportunity to let the people see and hear Christina. Though there is talk of a famous funny girl she has played, this is Christina as Christina - talking as Christina, singing as Christina, and socializing as Christina. To that end, Bianco welcomed to the stage two overwhelming talents in the form of Nicolas King and Jeremy Miloszewicz, and though to comment on what exactly the gents do with Bianco would be a spoiler for tonight's audience, suffice it to say their mutual contributions to the Christina show are well worth the applause it takes to usher them on and off of the stage. It is a charming first act, filled with vocal performances that will brighten the eyes and shiver the spine, but mostly filled with feelings of adoration for a woman and talent easily labeled unbelievable.

And then comes the second act, when disbelief becomes as common to the room as breathing in and out.

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + StageThere can be no person who is unaware of Christina's status in the world as a great impressionist. And with the help of her fellow musicians and her crooning and comedic husband, Bianco puts her skills to the test before a grateful audience. Running the gamut from a girl named Gumm to a chick on a Wrecking Ball, Bianco provides eerily accurate vocal and facial representations of the biggest and most beloved stars in the galaxy, hilarious parodies without insult, and astonishing recreations built on love. Using a format quarantine-created for social media, she and Billy and the miraculous music man Brad Simmons provide more thrills than the newest ride at the amusement park, by way of a box, some man-made tresses, and impressive vocal skills, occasionally even getting to watch as Christina goes inside her voicebox of gold to find the voice, in real-time. Those unfamiliar with this gift of Bianco's were astonished last night, while those in the know, were merely living their best lives, blissful and blessed in a Birdland show. There's a reason Christina is so popular, there's a reason her nightclub acts sell out, and there's a reason they want her in the British Isles.

The reason is all Christina. Underline, italicize, and bold it.

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + StageThis isn't just a creative comic genius, she isn't only The Girl of A Thousand Voices - this is a good girl, a sweet and caring soul, and it shows in every expressive, excessive moment that her sequin-sheathed, petite-framed, titanic-talented person is up on the stage, whether she is simply sharing a story of a lost experience due to the pandemic, making the biggest most beautiful sound you've ever heard, or spinning The Wheel of Voices that will send you home to listen to all of your Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters and Liza Minnelli albums in one day. She is the most dedicated worker, the most unique performer, and the most lovable person one is likely to come across, on either side of the pond. It's just their luck, on the other side, that the casting directors and directors see her, value her, and have work for her.

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + StageSo, with all the love in our hearts and all the good wishes for a career success that will bring her that which she so richly deserves, we gathered last night to basque in the glow and the glory, and to send her off with trunks full of good will.

We will miss you, Christina. Come back soon, but go over there and Eat Life. It's yours to have, and have it, you will.

Because there are visual spoilers in photographs made last night, Broadway World Cabaret will abstain from publishing detailed photos until after tonight's show. Please check back next week for a full photo essay of the evening.

Tickets for tonight's performance of A LOT TO UNPACK are HERE.

Christina Bianco's website is HERE.

Christina Bianco gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing her entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.


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