Review: Divallusion with Christiana Bianco and Velma Celli

August 19, 2014 in Blog

With millions of views on YouTube and an appearances on the Ellen Degeneres Show and Graham Norton, Christina Bianco is the singer impressionist everyone is talking about. In her Fringe debut she teams up with cabaret drag queen Velma Celli for Divallusion – a celebration of everything diva. This is much more than impersonator and her act. We discover divas old and new, there’s poetry (in the style of Sarah Jessica Parker and Cheryl Cole), parodies, party games (Tranny Atlantic Diva Battle) and of course lots of singing. This is 50 minutes of high octane entertainment.

Though Christina’s YouTube fame may have got people through the door, Velma Celli turns out to be a critical part of the show. Where an evening of vocal impressions (though brilliant) may begin to loose their shine Velma’s comedy and vocals provide the necessary light and shade to keep us fully engaged for the whole show. Never far away with the right balance of edgy camp, she towers over the diminutive Christina to great comic effect.

It’s a true collaboration and wisely, the pair don’t compete for stage time. Each plays to their strengths and Christina happily steps aside as Velma dances up a storm (complete with splits) and relishes her own diva moments.

But it’s Christina’s voice that gets the audience screaming with delight. The range of sounds she produces is quite remarkable: Bette Midler, Whitney Houston, Adele, Cher, Liza Minnelli, Edith Piaf… I could go on. Even without the impressions she has an incredible instrument. From her uncanny Barbara Streisand to the high notes of Kristin Chenoweth – I lost count of how many times shivers ran down my spine. We get plenty of the real Christina too, her heartfelt ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ providing the antidote to Velma’s outrageous ‘And I’m Telling You’ as Margaret Thatcher.

Kudos to the director for giving the show such great pace and shape. There’s lots of light and shade and it’s very funny. There’s good use of pre-recorded music alongside pianist Joe Louis Robinson and credit to the engineer for creating such a rich resonant sound.

There’s so much to enjoy in this fully formed show. The impressions are backed up by truly superb voices, it’s pacey and very funny. Go! These divas won’t be around for ever.

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