BWW Interviews: Caroline Bowman, Spamalot¬'s Lady of the Lake at Atlanta¬'s Fox Theatre, June 3 - 5.
The Knights who say Ni, Tim the Shrubber, the Holy Hand Granade, and a Killer Rabbit. If these mean anything to you then you are already familiar with the hit cult movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But even if you aren't familiar with the movie, but love funny, exciting and colorful musical theatre you will soon have the chance to find out more when Theater of the Stars presents Spamalot at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. On June 3, for just 5 performances only, Atlanta audiences will have the chance to go on their own irreverent quest with King Arthur and his Knights and possibly even find their own grail. I caught up with Caroline Bowman who plays the Lady of the Lake.
BWW: Caroline, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I am excited to hear about the show and I know our readers will be too. We are really looking forward to Spamalot in Atlanta!
Caroline Bowman:You are so welcome!
Let's start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. Specifically, how did you get into the theatre business??
Well, I started theatre really young. My mom is an actor and she did a lot of community theatre growing up so I kind of got the theatre bug because of her. I took dance classes and voice lessons growing up and then I went to Penn State University for Musical Theatre. Then, between my junior and senior year, I auditioned for Fame: The Musical which was a China tour with Phoenix. I had decided that summer I would just go and audition for everything I was right for, and so I went to New York and only ended up auditioning for two things and I got both of them! I didn't actually think I would get them both, so I had to work things out with school. At first I didn't think I would be able to do it, but my Mom, who is the most supportive and encouraging person in the world, she said I think you can work it out, you should try. So, I ended up somehow working it out through a lot of negotiation, went on tour with Fame, came back and graduated on time. I did Grease with the same company, then Spamalot, and the rest is history!
So, before you got involved with Spamalot were you a fan of Monty Python and/or the show?
Really it was very new to me. I had never seen it before on stage. I had seen a few Monty Python things and part of the Holy Grail movie, and was a fan of Sara Ramirez, and knew of the show, obviously, but I had never seen it. I had to do a lot of research to figure out what this show is all about, and after close to ten months on tour I am still working on it!!
And with the show being based on a very popular cult movie, do you find that creates challenges with being "new"and unique or is it nice to have a fan base to some extent already?
Well, it is really, really amazing, and we know it immediately when we have a bunch of Month Python fans in the audience. We do have a lot of the cult followers who come to the show. It's amazing, because the second the show starts and King Arthur comes out with the coconuts and they go wild, we know then that it is going to be a great show. The challenge with that, mainly for the other actors, is the fact that since we do scenes straight out of the movie, it can be hard to make it their own but stay true to the Monty Python characters that everybody knows and loves. My character is not in the movie, just mentioned, so I have the freedom to go wherever I want with the character. It is a blessing and a challenge for me.
For someone not familiar with the show, in a few words how would you describe it or "sell" it?
I would say that it is a laugh out loud, roll in your seat, sit back and enjoy yourself kind of theatre experience. There are so many words to describe it! It is appealing to a lot of different people, even if you don't know anything about Monty Python or if you know everything about it, just a fun, colorful, wonderful musical.
Let's talk about your character, the Lady of the Lake. How would you describe her to someone who has not seen the show?
I would describe her as King Arthur's guardian. She shows up to help him figure out where to go next on his quest, and in turn it helps her in a way. She has a lot of power, she is a very strong and powerful woman. The director and choreographer told me in rehearsal that she is the only one who knows how this show will end up as long as Arthur takes the right path. She is the only one smart enough to know! She even complains about that in the second act, she is helping everyone on their way but then is not on stage for 30 minutes. It can be a very fun dynamic character.
So, what part of playing the character do you like the most? What do you look forward to the most each night?
I know this sounds silly, but I love everything! I will be having a rough day, not feeling like doing it, but the second the show starts, I feel all better. I get to wear fantastic costumes, every song is completely different and in different styles, so I get to expand my range. I guess one of my favorite parts of it is the fact that it is different and constantly changing. The hard part is not going too far over the top. My favorite song to sing is "Find Your Grail", it is just a ball to sing every night. "Diva's Lament" is great too, who doesn't want to stand in the middle of the stage with a spotlight, it is a dream.
So, Camelot has been referred to as a "silly place", is it? I imagine the cast has a great time together.
Absolutely. We have so much fun on stage every night. They are constantly switching it up on me, and I am switching it up on them, and that is the best. That is really important after so many performances to stay fresh and so funny, so yeah, we are having a ball.
To pull off the off beat humor of a show like Spamalot, I bet it takes good timing and lots of prep. Do you find it more challenging to do a comedic show like this as opposed to a more traditional one?
Well, I think in a way they are similar if you are going to do a dramatic piece vs a comedic piece. The reason why the comedic piece is funny is because we are so serious in such crazy out of this world situations. So, I guess the hard part is zoning out the audience, there are sometimes people cackling in the audience, so not acknowleging them when you are trying to do a serious scene. I think the preparation is the same, trying to figure out why your character is doing what she is doing. There are different challenges in both. In this show I base my performance off of how the audience reacts to me, and in a more dramatic piece you are not as focused on that because you don't hear as much reaction.
Let's talk about touring and being on the road with a show like this. Do you find the audiences are very different from city to city?
For the most part we have been really lucky. Spamalot has sold so well and people really enjoy it. People are walking out whistling "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" and dancing! Occasionally we get people who have no idea what they are watching, but for the most part we have really great audiences. It is definitely a blessing to do this show.
What is the most difficult part of that touring life? The best part?
I think my main priority while I am on tour is staying healthy. I just make sure that I am drinking a lot of water, getting enough sleep, and eating the right food. It is my job, so I am going to take all that seriously and make sure that I am taking precautions to stay healthy. But it is definitely fun to go to new cities and see different places. Some are better than others, of course, but we are so excited to come to Atlanta!
So have you ever been to Atlanta/performed at the Fox?
I have not, but we have performed at the Fox in St. Louis and I have heard really amazing things about the Fox in Atlanta. I am really excited about that.
So thinking toward the future, do you have a dream role that you would one day like to play?
I have so many dream roles! I want to be on Broadway soon. I am planning on moving to New York after this and really just trying. I would love to play Elphaba in Wicked, I love Amneris in Aida, too many great roles. I am going to New York and pound the pavement and be seen. I want to do everything, I have big plans: Broadway, TV, maybe film eventually!
In closing, I have three, very important questions to ask you:
What is your name?
What is your quest?
To find my own grail
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
It depends, are they carrying coconuts???
Caroline I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today. Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
No, I think just that our cast has been waiting to come to Atlanta and are excited to be there and we can't wait to give you guys a great show!!
Monty Python's SPAMALOT, will return to Atlanta for only 5 performances from Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5 at the Fox Theatre at 660 Peachtree Street, Atlanta. Tickets range from $20 to $60 and are on sale now at www.theaterofthestars.com. Discounted group tickets for 15 or more can be purchased by calling 404-881-2000 or online at www.foxtheatre.org/groupsales.aspx
Ensemble photo by Scott Suchman RS1