BWW Review: Extraordinary Talent Onstage in THE MANY VOICES OF CHRISTINA BIANCO at Gate69
An extraordinary talent is currently onstage at Gate69, Cape Town's "Purple Palace", which continues to deliver on its aim of being a complete sensory experience and South Africa's premiere cabaret theatre. This time, Cathy and her Trolley Dollies present the phenomenal Christina Bianco. Her YouTube channel, on which she posts videos of her impersonations of celebrities as they sing both their signature songs as well as songs nobody could ever imagine them singing, was my first introduction to her remarkable vocal dexterity, and form the foundation of THE MANY VOICES OF CHRISTINA BIANCO , which has only three more performances scheduled in the Mother City.
A double Drama Desk Award nominee, for FORBIDDEN BROADWAY GOES TO REHAB and APPLICATION PENDING, Bianco is absolutely everything that she promises to be. Whether she is singing a customised "Part of Your World" from THE LITTLE MERMAID or a medley of songs from SMASH in her own voice, or cycling through a host of divas singing a song like "Cabaret", her performance hits the bullseye. In fact, she is like Robin Hood. She shatters any arrow that already might have hit the target and claims it exclusively as her own, no matter whether she is in the guise of Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Bernadette Peters or Barbra Streisand.
Between songs, Bianco chats with the audience, sharing stories from her childhood and how she found her many voices. Later in the show, there is also a pop diva quiz and a peerless reading of short extracts from Streisand's MY PASSION FOR DESIGN. THE MANY VOICES OF CHRISTINA BIANCO had the audience members in stitches as regularly as it had their jaws on the floor in amazement at what Bianco can do.
As always, Gate69 opens well before the curtain goes up, with audiences able to drinks at the bar - the cocktail menu offers some fun options - before moving upstairs to enjoy the new selection of delectable mezze treats served each table in the theatre. THE MANY VOICES OF CHRISTINA BIANCO offers an experience that is entirely top class. I raced to get my ticket like some would race to see a pop concert at Cape Town Stadium, and you know what? I think I got the better deal.
THE MANY VOICES OF CHRISTINA BIANCO runs until 19 October, with tickets available from the official Gate69 website. Tickets range in price from R450 - R595, which includes a delicious designer mezze served on a double-tiered Lazy Susan, a separate hot soup and bread service as well as a mouth-watering purple Patron soft serve ice-cream for dessert. The suggested arrival time is 18:30 for a drink in the bar, with dinner at 19:00 and the show at 20:15.