Star of ‘Frozen — The Musical’ tour feels strong personal connection to icy princess character
Broadway veteran Caroline Bowman has reprised the role of Elsa more than 500 times on the national tour that arrives in San Diego on Wednesday
Caroline Bowman’s connections to Princess Elsa of Arendelle, a part she’s reprised more than 500 times in the national touring production of “Frozen — The Musical,” run deep and have parallels to her own life. “As actors,” she said, “we play pretend, right? I’ve always done it for a living. This feels more like I’m in touch with my childhood dreams coming true than any other role I’ve ever played.
“I never fully felt I related to a Disney princess before I met Elsa. That’s why I’ve been able to play this role for so long and feel so invigorated by it,” she said.
At the same time, Bowman said, “I am an adult woman and she is an adult woman. She has magical powers but she’s going through something very real. I attribute my own life experiences to what Elsa goes through. I feel like I’m stepping into my own womanhood and the power in my own life.”
The “Frozen — The Musical” North American tour, which launched in 2019, comes to the San Diego Civic Theatre Wednesday for a 12-day visit to the San Diego Civic Theatre. Based on the smash-hit Disney animated film, the stage musical ran for two years on Broadway before it was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It features an expanded score by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the music and lyrics for the 2013 movie.
A departure from traditional fairy tale stories, “Frozen” is not about the heroine finding true love with a handsome prince but instead discovering the secret behind her magic and the everlasting bond with her sister, Anna, who is played on the tour by Lauren Nicole Chapman.
“I love the sister relationship,” said Bowman. “Their relationship is the strongest power. It’s not the prince saving the princess. It’s these sisters saving each other.”
Bowman has a personal connection to that facet of the “Frozen” story, as well.
“I had a sister who is no longer with us,” she said. “She passed away when I was very young. I feel connected to my sister through this sister. That’s really special to me.”
Having played Elphaba in “Wicked” on Broadway in 2014 and 2015 and now Elsa in “Frozen,” Bowman knows that her audiences include many young girls and boys.
“I see these young people coming and having a really emotional response to it (‘Frozen’) in a way they didn’t expect. I definitely don’t take that responsibility lightly. I know what an impact I’m having. The second I walk out on stage, I am Elsa to them,” she said.
Bowman also knows the power of the show’s famous self-affirming song “Let it Go.”
“People come to the stage door and share their stories about what that song has done for them and what those words mean,” she said. “There’s something about the song that’s therapeutic for people. I also don’t take that lightly.”
That song also sums up nicely Bowman’s feelings about playing Elsa this long. Her contract continues through September.
“It’s very fulfilling,” she said. “It’s a role that’s hard to let go.”
‘Frozen — The Musical’
When: Opens Wednesday and runs through Jan. 29. Showtimes, 7 p.m. Wednesdays. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. (Additional performances 2 p.m. Jan. 19 and 7 p.m. Jan. 24)
Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego
Coddon is a freelance writer.
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