Thanks to 'The Cher Show', It's Time to Brush Up on Your Impressions

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Can you do a killer impression of Michael Jackson? What about Lady Gaga? Maybe even a Taylor Swift? If so, keep those impressions fresh because they could come handy for not only Las Vegas but for the Great White Way as well.

Thanks large in part to the success of The Cher Show, Broadway is on pace to be a prime location for bio-jukebox musicals. We’ve already seen the likes of Jersey Boys, On Your Feet and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, based on The Temptations, is on its way in 2019. There are also plans to bring shows based on the lives of Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Queen and the Bee Gees to New York.

Since these bio-jukebox musicals aren’t going away anytime soon, it’s our jobs as actors to be ready. So in addition to working on movement, stage combat and dialects, developing some solid impressions isn’t a bad idea. I don’t do any impressions but I asked a friend of mine who does a killer Patti LuPone (it’s hilarious) what makes for a great impression.

“A lot of people think you just have the nail the voice,” she said. “While that certainly helps, you have to really become of the whole person. So it’s in the body, the expressions of the face, the attitude. It involves a lot of research, especially if it’s for a serious production.”

To illustrate this, below is a video of Christina Bianco, who not only is an incredible performer as herself, but also one of the best impressionists working today. While she certainly nails the voices of each person she does, notice how she changes her posture, tilting of the head and what she’s doing with her hands. All important in nailing an accurate impression.

These types of shows are going to be such a regular occurrence on Broadway, that I’m already hearing buzz from well-known college theatre programs that they’re going to implement impression training in their curriculums. Personally, whatever gives an aspiring performer a better chance of landing a role, I’m for it.

While costuming, hair and makeup can certainly aid any impression, nailing the true essence of the person is up to the performer. So beef up on those impersonating skills, they could come in handy when trying to make it on Broadway.