BWW Interviews: Don't Cry for Me, Ms. Bowman
Caroline Bowman is a regular brunette. Now, I'm not saying she isn't special, it's just that she doesn't have any super distinguishing features---big ears, a weird jaw, a lazy eye, a disproportionate body---she looks like a normal person and that's not a bad thing. But, what separates Bowman from the hordes of brunettes, crowding around a room, desperate to get a foot in the door is that she truly is a triple-threat.
It's Friday evening and Bowman is sitting in her bed at the Curtis Hotel in Denver, when I ring through to her cell phone. It's an hour earlier than I'm supposed to be calling but Bowman is polite, humble and still engages me in welcomed conversation. She's preparing for her final performances in the Mile High City before she and the rest of the EVITA cast and crew pack their bags and head to the land of 10,000 lakes and a winter that reigns supreme. "I've actually never been to Minnesota," she says. "On this tour we are so lucky because we get to see 25 cities and have 25 opening nights. I always get excited for a new city and so far we haven't had to face any really cold cities."
As a child, growing up surrounded by theatre and knowing that's what she wanted to do, roles in shows like WICKED (U/S Elphaba), SPAMALOT (Lady of the Lake) and most recently KINKY BOOTS (Ensemble) helped fine-tune the well oiled musical theatre Bowman machine, but it's her latest role---as Eva, the second wife of Juan Peron and First Lady of Argentina, on the national tour of EVITA---that requires Bowman to really use said machine, full-force, and eight shows a week. The role of Eva is challenging on its own and despite the constant changing of stages, climates, and general travel aches and pains, Bowman manages to continually deliver stellar performances.
For most musical theatre performers, a national tour is an incredible opportunity but living and working on the road is not an easy task. Sure, there's the perks of traveling the world, making money without really spending too much at the same time, and the exposure you get from simply being placed in front of the sheer mass of people around the country and even around the world in some cases. But on the flip side, there are the challenges of facing the ever-changing climates and various altitudes in each state, keeping your body at its peak performance condition and living out of essentially a few suitcases. "I always have my Aquafresh. I have my glasses and my retainer that I wear every night. Yeah, I'm a nerd like that," she jokes. "But it [being on tour] has its ups and downs. We're lucky to have some pretty good sit-downs. Although, I can't wait to get my closet back---it's the little things you miss."
For those who don't know, EVITA is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that chronicles the life of Eva Peron. It starts in her early life, follows her during her rise to power and eventually leads us to her death. Even if you aren't familiar with the entire musical, I dare you to say you've never heard the song, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." And if you try and deny that one, I am inclined to believe you are full of nonsense---run to your nearest computer and YouTube one of the hundreds of renditions out there on the internets. The song is iconic, full of expectations and certainly not an easy ballad to perform. Bowman readily admits, that before performing the song, she still gets a small twinge of nerves. "This is the song everyone's been waiting to hear. You're out there and you're in the dress..."
The Argentinean first lady is certainly not a role Bowman can live in forever but for now she's embracing Eva's world and when the tour is over Bowman will continue to act---hopefully pursuing more projects in the film and television medium---and theatre will always be a part of her life. "I want to originate a role on Broadway and I know that's a big jump but I do."
Bowman may be considered young in her pursuit of big-time musical theatre fame, but her humility is certainly wise beyond her years. Before our time is up, Bowman gave me a quick rundown on what's she's learned from being on tour with EVITA and then humored me with a little game of lightning round. See what she has to say below:
WHAT SHE'S LEARNED:
- Performing "Buenos Aires" in the mountains is not the easiest task but we did it.
- I overload on socks and underwear. You can never have enough because you don't always knew when you'll get to do laundry.
- I try not to read the reviews. I'm going to hear the good ones anyway, and the bad ones aren't going to help me.
- Everyone is a critic, but I'm doing my thing and I'm always learning.
- I always shave my armpits---nobody wants a hairy Eva Peron.
- I have fourteen quick changes. A lot of the time, when I'm offstage, I'm throwing clothes on and off. I'm not usually resting. It's a marathon.
- When you get frustrated, remember why you decided to go after your dream.
- I'm starting to find my groove---although you really can't find your groove with this show because it's kind of like a wave.
- I still can't believe I do this every day. I get up there and I get teary almost every day. It's crazy!
READY, SET, LIGHTNING ROUND:
Favorite tour stop: San Diego
Love to meet: Ellen DeGeneres
Career to emulate: Patti LuPone
Doppelganger: Kate Hudson
Favorite Snack: Mac n' Cheese
Guilty Pleasure TV show: Masters of Sex
Guilty Pleasure Movie: Sex and the City
Favorite Color: Blue
Single or Taken: Taken
Favorite Activity: Going to the movies.
If you haven't experienced the passion and seduction of EVITA, now is certainly the time. And while some may disagree with the casting of Bowman, I whole-heartedly agree. It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to fill the shoes left by stars like Patti LuPone or even Madonna, but I think Ms. Caroline Bowman is the right woman for the task.
The Orpheum, 910 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 1.800.982.2787, hennepintheatretrust.org
Photo Credit: Caroline Bowman as 'Eva Peron' in the National Tour of EVITA. Directed by Michael Grandage, tour direction by Seth Skylar-Heyn, musical direction by William Waldrop, costume design by Christopher Oram. Photo by Richard Termine.