DIVA TALK: Chatting With Evita Star Caroline Bowman Plus A Captivating Betty Buckley

By Andrew Gans
13 Sep 2013

Bowman on opening night of Kinky Boots.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Question: Have you toured before? What are your thoughts about being on the road and taking this around the country?
Bowman: I have toured before. I toured with Spamalot, and that was a couple of years before I moved to New York. I did the national tour. I also did the China tour of Fame, and I did Grease in Istanbul, Turkey. Definitely international touring is way different than national touring, and I kind of knew I wasn’t done touring yet after I was finished with Spamalot. I knew I was going to move to New York, and I’m glad I did because I moved at a great time for me, but I knew I wasn’t done, and this is such a luxurious tour. [Laughs.] We get to go to such big cities. So I’m excited, I’m totally stoked to tour again, and also I’m touring with one of my…

Question: And, you’re the leading lady…
Bowman: I’m the leading lady; that’s pretty amazing, and I also am touring with one of my best friends, Desi! How many people get to do that? It’s like I’m going on vacation. I get to do something I love every night and hang out with people that I love. Also the cast is incredible. They are just phenomenal performers and awesome human beings. It’s pretty amazing how they put together so many great personalities. I’m not sure if that’s what they look for in auditions, but they certainly did a great job of choosing winners.

Question: You mentioned before they don’t have the levels for the tour. I’m curious how “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” is staged.
Bowman: We do have a balcony… Peron’s front door, when Eva meets the Mistress, is not upstairs. It’s on the same level. It’s not that different. We just don't have the stairs, so it's just different lighting. For “Good Night and Thank You,” my front door is just on stage level, so we’ve kind of re-staged things a little bit, but it totally works.

Question: The original Broadway production didn’t have levels either. They just had the balcony and barely any set to speak of.
Bowman: I actually really like it. The costumes are incredible, so that’s basically another set piece because you’re just staring at the glorious creations on Eva’s body. [Laughs.] It's just about the story. We’re just telling the story, which I think is so important. You can really focus, and there’s nothing to really steal your attention. Don’t get me wrong, the set is beautiful. The balcony’s beautiful, and we have these gorgeous chandeliers. The details in it are gorgeous, especially for a touring production, and there are so many hard pieces that you can lean on and use as an actor. That’s pretty nice because a lot of touring productions are going out with soft pieces. They have definitely paid homage to the set on Broadway and the beauty that was.

Question: How close will this tour get to New York?
Bowman: I think the closest right now is Philly, and that’s next year. We have a couple layoffs, and they told us not to treat them as layoffs just yet. They might fill them with other cities based on how we sell and if other theatres pick it up… I really want to perform in DC or Baltimore because that’s where I’m from!

Question: What was your first Broadway show?
Bowman: My first Broadway show was Wicked.

Question: Do you remember your first night—how it lived up to what you expected Broadway to be or how it was different?
Bowman: Oh my gosh, I was so nervous. I was Elphaba understudy, so I was in the ensemble every day, and I got to go on for Elphaba a couple times. My very first night on, I remember being so incredibly nervous—just because being a replacement in a Broadway show is so different than anything I’d ever done… I rehearsed without the cast. I had only really had one rehearsal with the whole cast so I could feel like it felt like to be on stage with the rest of them. I didn’t want to hurt anyone! I didn’t want to do anything wrong. The cast was so welcoming to me, and I felt very supported, and the stage management over at Wicked is excellent. I was really well-rehearsed by the time I went on for Elphaba. By the time I got to go on, I was ready, and I wanted to do it so bad. And that was a whole different experience being able to make that entrance. That’s again, another [demanding role]—she never stops either. That was good preparation for Evita.

Question: How would you compare those roles? You're probably one of the few to play both.
Bowman: I have to say that with Evita, I have been working up to this, so vocally I have figured out where I can pull back and where I can rest, and because I was the understudy for Elphaba, every time I went on, it was like being shot out of a cannon.  I didn’t know I was going on, so I just went full out the whole show! So I would say, in that aspect, Elphaba was way harder because I wasn’t building up to it. This is a sport we do, and if you’re an athlete, you can’t just bench press 150 pounds right off the bat—you have to work up to it. So I’d say that was hard not building up my stamina. But they’re pretty close. The only thing is because Wicked is not a rock opera, there’s speaking. You’re doing a lot of yelling as Elphaba, and I think that’s really hard, but they definitely both have their own challenges. And I think if I had gotten to play the role for a longer period of time in Wicked, I would have a better say as to which one is more challenging.

[For more information visit EvitaOnBroadway.com.]