NiteLife Pick of the Week: Christina Bianco– Memorial Day at 7 PM at Birdland…. Diva On Demand, with Brian Nash

BY ROB LESTER****It may be Memorial Day on Monday, but that dynamo of energy, in her own voice or with her impressions extraordinare, Christina Bianco, is singing at Birdland on West 44 Street rather than taking the day off or just hanging around with the sailors flooding the streets of midtown Manhattan.  I caught her last gig there and am delighted to say I was so delighted that I just HAD to make this delightful lady the “Pick of the Week.”  In full command of her many talents and her audience, she is supremely confident on stage and yet refreshingly down to earth.  As an impressionist nailing the vocal tics, sound, gestures, and stance of singer after singer after singer impresses enough after I while that one sits there in awe, making the overused flattering word “awesome” finally ready to be allowed back into a reviewer’s thesaurus of reasonable adjectives.  Whether she’s channeling Barbra Streisand or Celine Dion, get ready for fun.  Celine stands out as probably the best captured — exaggerated just enough, the accent and melodrama and mannerisms on songs the diva sang and didn’t sing, her mischievously poisoned arrow hits the bull’s eye with every phrase and grand gesticulation.  

Photo: Russ Weatherford

While I admit being clueless to have a solid reference point for a few of the pop/R&B hit-makers du jour, I wasn’t left out for long as the different ladies embodies zip by at a rapid clip, making Christina Bianco all the more a dazzler by her rapid changes from one to another.   

But there’s no question that one of the most entertaining and satisfying personalities and personas she presents is the one actually named Christina Bianco.  Her strong, belting voice is — I guess, unsurprisingly — flexible.  But, beyond that, she has an exciting sound and star quality that makes all the impressions, remarkable as they are, a whole lot of delicious icing on a cake which would be perfectly satisfying if served frosting-free.  But who doesn’t love some sweet icing?  Especially when she goes into Kristin Chenoweth’s helium-infused chipmunk voice that suddenly changes into the operatic soprano?  When she puts the parade of chanteuses before us, it’s like The Night of 1000 Stars.

Joining her as musical director, as he did with his usual panache in the beginning of April, will be that musical smash Mr. Brian Nash.  They are well suited, both fluent in pop styles, and ready to turn on a dime from one genre to the next as Miss Bianco turns into one personality after another.  This one-off event is being referred to as a Diva On Demand  show, which means the audience is in the driver’s seat, asked directly to puck the material from a large list of possibilities.  This ready-for-anything lady has done everything from stopping the show at The Town Hall to touring early on as that toddler-worshiped cartoon, Dora the Explorer, the Spanish-spouting sprite with a backpack.  Joking about her own shortish stature, and how she can be mistaken for a kid when someone just sees her from the back, she confides that she’ll thus never wear a backpack.  With a wink and a smile and a super-savvy way of entertainment, this one-woman cast of thousands is a knockout whatever the song choice, whatever the cloned voice.  So: Rejoice!

Monday, May 29 at 7pm
Birdland, 315 West 44 Street, NYC
www.BirdlandJazz.com
$35 cover, $10 food/drink minimum

Also see www.ChristinaBianco.com