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

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13 Sep 2013

Caroline Bowman
Caroline Bowman

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Caroline Bowman
Caroline Bowman, who made her Broadway debut in the long-running Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman hit Wicked, is currently starring in the title role of the new national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's pop opera Evita. The tour, which is based on the recent Broadway revival of the Tony-winning musical, also casts Tony nominee Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Che and Sean MacLaughlin (Woman in White) as Juan Peron with Desi Oakley as the alternate for Eva, Christopher Johnstone as Magaldi and Krystina Alabado as the Mistress. Bowman, who was also seen in the 2013 Tony-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots, is no stranger to the touring world, having appeared in the national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot and the China tour of Fame as well as a tour of the 50s-themed Grease in Istanbul, Turkey. Yet, this is the first time the Massachusetts native, who grew up in Maryland, is the leading lady of a tour, playing a role that made stars out of its originators, Elaine Paige and Patti LuPone, in London and on Broadway, respectively. Earlier this week I had the chance to chat with the Broadway belter, who spoke about playing the vocally challenging Eva; that interview follows.

Question: You just started performances this past weekend. How did they go?
Caroline Bowman: It went well. It was nice to finally have audiences! I’ve been in rehearsals for six weeks now because I had a week before the whole ensemble came in. So, it was definitely nice and rewarding to have an audience there.

Question: What was the audition process like? I would think this was a role that was pretty coveted by actors.
Bowman: Well, the audition process was about three months long. I had my very first audition in February, and then I didn't find out I got the role until May 7. I went into callback after callback, and every single time I went in to sing for them, they added a song. So by the end I was singing seven or eight songs from the show, and I also danced for them on three separate occasions. [Laughs.] It was quite an intense audition process, definitely the most intense I’ve ever had. But I understand why they had to put us through that process, especially now, because this part is a marathon – it’s huge. They really have to trust somebody, and I'm so grateful they chose to trust me. Thus far, I’ve only done three performances, and it’s just the most exciting and gratifying, and most challenging, experience of my life. I’m excited to keep exploring because it’s just the beginning now.

Bowman in Evita.
photo by Richard Termine

Question: How familiar were you with the show? Were you an Evita fan? Had you seen the revival?
Bowman: Yes. It’s definitely on my list of dream roles, so this is pretty exciting. I was more familiar with the movie, the Madonna version. I’ve had that since it came out. I never got to see it on Broadway, the most recent revival. I’ve seen different incarnations of it. I grew up in Maryland, so I went and saw a bunch of productions of it there when I was a kid. I actually had to do a lot of research before my auditions just so I could remind myself of the story and who this woman was, and obviously the research continued when I got the role.

Question: What was the rehearsal process like? Who directed and choreographed the tour?
Bowman: Seth Sklar-Heyn directed, and he’s Michael Grandage’s assistant or associate on the Broadway production. My very first week was just me and Josh Young, who’s playing Che, who's incredible, and then Desi Oakley, who is the Eva alternate, who also happens to be one of my very best friends. So the three of us rehearsed the very first week just to get our footing and to get a headstart. And [rehearsals were also with] Jenny Ford, who was the Broadway dance captain. She worked with us very closely the very first week, and then the second week was with the full cast, and Kristen Blodgette was our music director, who was sensational, and Chris Bailey, who is Rob Ashford’s second-hand man, he's our choreographer for the production.

The second week was with the whole cast, and we rehearsed in New York for three weeks total with the cast, but I rehearsed for four in New York. And then we came to Providence, and we’ve been here for three weeks, and we did tech, which has been a very long process. I don’t know if you saw the show on Broadway, but the lighting is just spectacular, and it's gorgeous, and so they were kind of relighting it for the tour, and that’s done by Neil Austin, and he does amazing work. So that’s taken a while, and plus there’s some minor differences from Broadway. We don’t have the levels, so they had to relight different scenes during the show that are [now on] stage level. So that’s just been reprogramming and making it as beautiful as we can. And then we opened on Sunday.


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