It doesn't come as a surprise that Kara Lindsay and Caroline Bowman, the latest Glinda and Elphaba, respectively, in the Broadway production of Wicked, are two of the show's biggest fans. After all, they were coming of age right when the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical debuted 11 years ago, and, like most people with the desire to tread the boards, were entranced by a show that offers a pair of extraordinary roles for actresses and several opportunities to belt to high heaven in the shower.
Though both have appeared in the show before, Bowman first joined the Wicked family three years ago as an Elphaba standby (departing to join the cast of Kinky Boots and then the title role in the first national tour of Evita), while Lindsay spent most of 2014 as Glinda in the second national Wicked tour, after having starred in Newsies for most of its two-year run. In a recent conversation with TheaterMania, they described how surreal it is to go from singing along with the cast album in their living rooms to performing on the stage of the Gershwin Theatre.
Are you both Wicked fangirls from way back?
Caroline Bowman: Definitely. I saw the show with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth for my sixteenth birthday. I got the CD for Christmas and memorized it. I remember lying on the floor of my living room and listening to the whole album all the way through. I knew all the words to the songs when I went into the show.
Kara Lindsay: I became a really amazing lip-syncher in the mirror to all these songs. I sang everything. I was Glinda, Elphaba, Nessa, Boq, and the Wizard. I did a really great job in my own bedroom, by myself, with the mirror. [laughs] I saw Megan Hilty and Idina. Megan was a standby. I saw her when she first joined the company. I was still in college. She was a senior [at Carnegie Mellon University] when I was a freshman and I looked up to her so much. I wanted to see her do this role so badly.
Did having memorized the CD make the audition easier?
Caroline: Heck yeah! I feel like I've been preparing for this audition for my whole life. I was thinking about this last night during the show: What if I forget the words? I don't think there's a way that I could. I've known these words for eleven years, since the album came out. They're in my body. They've been in my life for the whole time Wicked has been around. I can just trust that they're there.
Kara, were you more nervous during your first night on tour or during your first night at the Gershwin?
Kara: When I stepped out on the stage on [my first night], it was like I had never done it before. I was shaking the bubble. I don't think I've ever been that nervous. I had such horrible stage fright, like I was going to forget my words. I don't have the reality check in me to be like "you know this."
Caroline: Sometimes it doesn't matter, though. I did Evita for a year and a half and I still questioned my words every day.
Have you gotten any advice on playing these roles from former Glindas and Elphabas?
Kara: When I went on tour, I was replacing Hayley Podschun. We went out for margaritas in San Antonio. She really took me under her wing.
Caroline: I was at my manager's holiday party and Eden Espinosa was there, and we had a conversation. There's a knowing-ness. Any person who has played Elphaba is like, if you need anything, don't hesitate to contact me.
This show has an extremely dedicated fan base. What compliment have you gotten that touched you the most?
Caroline: I had a girl from Japan come up to me last night, in tears. She was like, "I dream of doing this and you have inspired me to continue." We inspired her to keep working on it. That's it. That's why I do it. You want to change the world a little bit, and we're doing our teeny tiny part. It takes the pressure off of us as singers and actors, because I'm doing this for someone else.
Kara: That's what I did at the stage door at Ragtime, being like "You inspire me. This is why I want to do this." For it to come full circle like that is insane.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to the aspiring Glindas and Elphies out there?
Kara: Capathia [Jenkins] gave me this piece of advice: Stay in the center of you. I get so worked up about my nerves and how nervous I get, and I lose myself. Something about that really resonated with me. Nobody can be Kara Lindsay. Nobody can be Caroline Bowman. That's something nobody can take away from you. You are going to bring something special by just being you and being unique.
Caroline: I was going to say, "Stay true to yourself," which is the same thing. That's the best thing we can say to people.
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