by Monica Charline Brown
Caroline Bowman has already secured a special place in the Broadway community’s heart as her burgeoning career unfolds! Tackling the roles of Elphaba in “Wicked” and Nicola in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, as well as Eva Peron in “Evita” and Lady of the Lake in “Spamalot” on national tours, she has certainly earned her position as a favorite young leading lady to keep an eye on. Her seemingly effortless and sustained high belt voice is undeniable. What many patrons, having seen her perform some of the most difficult female roles of contemporary musical theater might not know, however, is how personable and likeable Caroline is. She charmed the audience at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s chosen hotspot, for a more intimate night of sharing her story so far.
Caroline’s set list put together stories from her personal journey in the theater very nicely. Hearing the tales of touring travels and Broadway firsts was endearing, and the way she incorporated musical theatre, pop, and even country songs around what she wanted to communicate to the audience about her life was stunning. Silly, charming, vulnerable, reflective and did I mention the ease with which she used her voice? She even gave endless thanks to her high school drama teacher and her parents, who were both in the audience. For anyone who might doubt whether Caroline is the real deal, watch her sing around fifteen songs back to back. You will come to your senses. She really made me feel like one of the many friends who came to support her that evening. It was like catching up with a girlfriend on the couch in your living room. This girlfriend just happened to be belting her face off and throwing a hitch-kick in here and there amidst the giggles. What a joy to witness a woman who just seemed so genuinely happy to be singing for her audience in her solo cabaret debut.
I must mention her two lovely back up singers, Krystina Alabado and Emily Mechler. Real life friends with golden voices, the two joined Caroline in a version of “Another Suitcase In Another Hall” from Evita. Emily understudied the mistress on Broadway and Krystina was the mistress to Caroline’s Eva on tour. Furthermore, Teal Wicks, another former green girl, teamed up with Caroline for an Oz tribute mash-up of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and The Wiz’s “Home.” Caroline adorably gushed to the audience how Teal was the Elphaba she stalked on YouTube as she prepared for her Broadway debut in the ensemble of Wicked and understudying Elphaba herself. Teal and Caroline had a gorgeous blend! One last elegant touch was the all black ensembles the ladies sported.
To see a performer simultaneously show her bubbly personality and open up to an audience emotionally is a beautiful thing. Caroline was accompanied by musical director/director Nathan Brewer on piano, Jeremy Yaddaw on drums, and Adam Neely on bass and acoustic guitar. In the middle of her show, she revealed a story about a bad experience with a critic. Hopefully, I can change that memory if Caroline comes across my review. She has definitely made an even bigger fan out of me.
Caroline Bowman. Friday, July 8 at Feinstein’s 54/Below (254 W. 54 Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues). carolinebowman.net. www.54below.com