Caroline Bowman started her journey as a troll. Now she’s evolved into a Disney princess.
Bowman plays icy Elsa in the national Broadway tour of “Frozen,” which will run at the Hippodrome Theatre June 7 through June 18. But her connection to the animated children’s film goes way back: She is credited as a member of the singing troll chorus in the 2013 movie.
Though Bowman has played Elsa in performances around the world — “My friends joke you’re, like, America’s Elsa,” she said — the Hippodrome shows are a return home. Hailing from Fulton, Maryland, she got her start at Glenelg High School in Howard County, where she was no stranger to the stage. Bowman’s parents took advantage of every creative opportunity available for her: The young singer was in the Peabody Children’s Chorus, won the Howard County Rising Star grant and attended “so many arts camps” while growing up in the area. Her mother was also a performer, and brought Caroline to shows from a young age.
“I was the kid who stayed quiet in the theater, I was so enthralled,” Bowman said. After completing high school, she attended Penn State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in musical theater. Quickly after, she landed a role as the Lady of the Lake in “Spamalot” for a non-union tour.
Her current touring life differs greatly from that first outing. As the leading lady in “Frozen,” she’s responsible for setting the tone for the cast. That position means you have to be “responsible for your energy,” she said. “You set the tone because people look to you as the leading lady of the show. It’s not a job I take lightly.”
Elsa is not a role she takes lightly, either. “She’s like a high-beltress and she’s a character who becomes so powerful and owns her womanhood,” Bowman said. Sisterhood is also important, as the Tony Award-nominated musical about two siblings has welcomed different actresses to play fellow princess Anna in their stops across the nation. Her current co-star, Lauren Nicole Chapman, is one with whom she’s formed a particularly strong bond.
“Whatever you see on the stage, that’s real,” Bowman said of her relationship with Chapman’s, which has mimicked the one between Elsa and Anna. That’s important, as touring is demanding and working with people who bring out the best in each other brings magic to the stage. For a moment, that meant keeping it in the literal family, as Bowman’s husband Austin Colby played Hans, who attempts to court Anna, in earlier iterations of the touring show. But even as they both traversed the country, Fulton, where Bowman’s parents live, was always their home base.
After years of performances in “Wicked,” “Evita” and “Kinky Boots” on both Broadway and on tour (just to name a few), Bowman and her husband spent most of the pandemic living with her family in Maryland, and cherished the time with them — and the food.
“My favorite Indian food restaurant in the world is in Howard County: Ananda. It’s amazing and the restaurant is so beautiful you could get married in there,” Bowman said. But it also allowed her to reflect on the ways Howard County nurtured her growth as an artist. “Baltimore, Washington, like this area — [it] was very special to grow up here because I had a lot of opportunity,” she said.
Thanks to her teachers and family, Bowman knew from a young age that she wanted to perform as a career. “I kind of was like, ‘I’m gonna live in New York and be on Broadway. Yeah.’ But it’s taken me so many more places than I ever would have imagined,” she said. On Wednesday, she will perform at the Hippodrome — where she’s enjoyed shows throughout her life — for the first time.