Follow the yellow brick road to Leicester this Christmas as a highly anticipated production of a beloved musical gets underway.
The Wizard of Oz is coming to Leicester! We’ve waited a lifetime for this production to come to life since its initial announcement a couple of years ago. After their “electric production” of Billy Elliot The Musical over the summer, audiences cannot wait to see what’s to come from this popular musical.
Curve will stage the regional premiere of the production which features new music from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, as well as iconic songs from the original MGM film.
We had the opportunity to chat to Christina Bianco who will be playing the role of Glinda The Good Witch.
Can you begin by telling our readers a little bit about your career up to this point?
Oh boy, sure. I’m Christina Bianco. I was born and raised in New York, USA, but I spent a lot of time in the past 8-10 years living and working in England. I’ve done a lot of theatre, particularly New York-based theatre.
2008 was an important year for me. I was in the long running off-Broadway show Forbidden Broadway in New York. In that show, I was asked to do some impressions and that was the first time I was ever reviewed as someone who did impressions. I was then up for a Drama Desk Award and that opened lots of doors for me.
I had some YouTube videos go viral in which I did impressions and that got really popular. It led to me performing on the Ellen Degeneres Show in the US among others. It was Forbidden Broadway though that gave me my start in New York as well as here in the West End too.
Right before the pandemic, I played Fanny Brice in Stephen Mear’s production of Funny Girl at the Marigny Theater in Paris. Most recently I played LV in the latest tour of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.
Was it difficult to establish yourself from the impressions work when you were building more of a career in musical theatre?
Yes and no, I’ve been really lucky because I had done a healthy amount of theatre in New York and in the States. It’s just one of those things where once it’s on your CV. After a while, you sort of say I am more than just a character act. It’s great because we all want to work and particularly when you’re establishing yourself, you want to take what you can get. But once I started to get more widely known for impressions, it took me all over the world.
Now you are joining us at Curve this Christmas in their production of The Wizard of Oz. What made you gravitate towards this theatre?
For years everyone had been telling me, have you seen a show at Curve? Have you worked with Nikolai? I always heard wonderful things. Curve are a little bit more interesting. The calibre was a little bit higher, casting was a little bit more unique. I have never been able to audition for them though. I was actually on the road touring with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice when I got the call about the audition.
I didn’t think there was a specific part for me. I’m too old for Dorothy and I thought I’d like to do the Wicked Witch, but I didn’t think I was quite right for that either. And never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d go for Glinda. I just thought there was no way. I picture Glinda as an operatic tall blonde which is not true but its how I saw it in my head. The show is about making it our own version which means I’ve made Glinda my own. They didn’t want me to be scared of bringing something new to it whilst also honouring and respecting the original material.
It must have been an interesting process to use a well-known musical and make it fresh.
It’s something everybody knows. It’s balanced because it’s for the kids who know the movie so well and the cartoon versions of it too. They want to give them what they know without everyone else in the family who has seen it a thousand times rolling their eyes or thinking I could have just watched the movie at home. So we are taking all of the history but we’re making it a little bit fresh, different and exciting.
I keep using the word simulating because the production really is for a new audience.
You are working alongside Charlotte Jaconelli in this production. How has that relationship developed?
Our characters have a great epic history between us. They only give us two scenes together. We’re having a really good time with it. People think they know the story of the witches of Oz from Wicked, which is different from the movie. We have had to make that our own again in this production. So we’re adding layers to it and hopefully, that’ll be really clear. It is interesting.
So why should people come and see The Wizard of Oz at Curve this festive season?
It’s a little bit more accessible and a bit more modern. Oz has never been given a specific time period but this production definitely has its own look and era. I keep forgetting that Toto isn’t a real dog, Ben Thompson who is the puppeteer is absolutely incredible.
You are going to get this timeless story that warms your heart but with new layers. It’s really exciting!
Get your tickets now for Wizard Of Oz at Curve, Leicester from Sat 19 Nov – Sun 8 Jan. Book your tickets here.
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