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

By Andrew Gans
13 Sep 2013

Bowman's friend Desi Oakley plays Eva twice a week.

Question: You mentioned sharing the role with your best friend. Have you two spoken about the role together and tried to find things together or have you investigated it separately?
Bowman: A lot of the time we worked together learning the show, and I am so supportive of her, and she is so supportive of me. It’s unbelievable. There was a point when she and I were in a separate room rehearsing by ourselves because they weren't using us—they were doing an ensemble number. Our director walked in, Seth, and he was like, “I don’t know if in the history of Evita this has ever happened, where the Eva and the Eva alternate rehearsed together.” I just think we’re sharing the role, and who better to share the role with than somebody I love with all my heart and soul? … It’s a team effort. She’s there to support me, and I’m there to support her. "Buenos Aires" is so hard physically—it’s just so hard to sing—I give so many props to Elena Roger and all the Evas that have ever done this production because it’s just such a high-energy dance number. By the end I’m completely out of breath. I have no water or saliva left in my mouth. [Laughs.] I’m literally praying that these notes are going to come out of me at the end of the song. So Desi and I in rehearsal, we would jump rope the dance portion of the song and then we would sing the end so that we were really out of breath. We did that together a lot when we were in New York. [Laughs.] I’m just grateful for her.

Question: What are some of the other challenges of the role or the score?
Bowman: Oh my gosh. I think I discover new challenges every day. I had a moment during opening night. I don’t even know what number it was after. I think I was changing clothes because constantly you run offstage, and every time Eva walks out on stage, I’m in a new costume! [Laughs.] It just never stops. For the first hour of the show, you never stop moving. I think finding some kind of Zen during the show has been a big challenge for me because I have to go out onstage and at least pretend like I’m not breathing hard or pretend that I’m not exhausted because I haven’t been able to sit down. [Laughs.] I keep staying true to the story and where she is and how old she is and how much time has passed, and it’s tough because it’s a whirlwind, and the show goes by so fast. I think finding that inner peace and Zen and really just focusing on telling the story [is challenging]. That was all a part of my research, too. I have to know the show front and back so that I can be a little frantic backstage and then at least try not to be frantic while I’m changing and then go back out onstage and be like, "Here I am in the story, here’s what I have to say, this is my goal for the scene, this is my objective."

Eva Peron

Her life was so jam-packed. The real Eva Peron lived such a full, incredible life that ended, yes, way too soon, but there’s so much information that could not be put into this musical because it’d be five hours long… Telling the story, giving it as much integrity to her life as possible, that’s really important to me, and it’s really hard to do that in a two-hour play. She jumps from scene to scene, and years could’ve gone by. She’s a different person. How different are you from age 20 to 25 to 30? She changes so much in a short amount of time, so it’s hard not to do that abruptly. I’m still working on that, and I think that's something that’s totally exciting to me and thrilling. This is going to be a continual process figuring out who my Eva is because I’m still discovering and learning about who she is and how I’m going to portray her. I think that’s going to take me probably months. [Laughs.] It’s just the beginning, so that’s cool. What a cool challenge for an artist, the creative process.

Question: Do you have a favorite moment yet? Is there something you look forward to?
Bowman: Well, I really feel like I’m at Eva Peron’s peak when I’m singing “Rainbow High.” I love signing that song. It’s just such a wailer. [Laughs.] I can just belt my brains out and own the stage, and I love singing that. I have two fantastic leading men, Josh and John are just amazing to work with, and they’re incredible actors, and they’re incredibly generous. It’s so easy to bounce off of them. I love singing “You Must Love Me.” I love that moment because of its simplicity. Because of the franticness of the show, and what I said before, she is running around constantly, she never stops, and that is a moment where she is just sitting on the stage, talking to her husband, talking about how she feels, and talking about her fears for the first time, and you see her vulnerability and her humanity, and I think that’s quite important, too.

It’s really up to the audience to decide whether you like her or not, because it was very split in real life. There were a lot of people who loved her and a lot of people who hated her. I think this production has the same "problem," I guess, where you are left to decide whether or not you like her as a person because of the choices she made. If somebody can do so much good for humanity and for the poor people of Argentina, does it make her a bad person if she did it for the wrong reasons? I don’t know. So that's up to the audience to decide. So I love that moment, “You Must Love Me,” and I love doing the waltz with Josh. It’s hard for me to pick a moment because it’s an incredible role to play. I’m so honored to play her. I think I find new favorites every day based on how I’m feeling.