I think my father’s favorite story to tell about me in high school was the day I came home during my first week of school. I plopped down on the couch, threw up my arms and vehemently exclaimed, “I want to do EVERYTHING at this school!” I was overwhelmed by all the clubs, activities, and enrichments that were offered at OLP, and I was determined to try them ALL! I had already tried out for volleyball that summer, and even though I was cut, my lack of athletic prowess did not deter me. That week, I signed up for the poetry club, academic decathalon, the Thespian’s society, and I auditioned for the fall play, “Stage Door” (I got cast as a supporting role, the 80 year old Mrs. Orcutt. I was ecstatic.) The drama department was helmed by Ms. Kathleen Herb, who became my advisor, favorite teacher, and good friend. I went on to become a peer counselor, dabbled in student government, was a cheerleader and on the track team for a year, and even earned an honorary letter as a “Stat Girl” for the Saints Wrestling Team. But theater was my passion, and Ms. Herb was there the support me and help me turn my passion into skill. She was the first person to say to me, “I think you could do this for a living.” She helped get me a scholarship to attend The Old Globe Theater’s summer camp, “Camp Orbit.” She also sponsored me in the English Speaking Union’s Shakespeare Competition, in which I placed 2nd place two years in a row. One year, Ms. Herb wanted to direct a musical, but she knew I wasn’t the most confident singer. She organized after school voice lessons with our choir and Honors English teacher, Mrs. Warner. I ended up playing one of the female leads in the show. The summer before my junior year, she chaperoned one student (me!) to the National Thespian Conference where I was able to audition for over 50 colleges and universities. I was accepted to over 30 schools based on my audition alone.
Because of Ms. Herb’s guidance, I ended up going to UCLA and majoring in Theater. There, I was directed by the legendary Carol Burnett in a production of “Once Upon a Mattress” and was honored to come back to OLP the following year as a “guest artist” to help Ms. Herb coach her actors in the same show. After graduating from UCLA, I was cast in the National Tour of the musical,”Fame.” I went on to tour Europe in productions of “Grease” and “Evita,” and built up some television and film credits. However, my biggest career dream came true when I got cast in the National Tour of “Wicked” as the Elphaba understudy. When our tour came to San Diego, I got to perform as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Ms. Herb brought a half a dozen OLP students to see the show. It was a full-circle moment–I was getting to live the dream in the town where my dream started. Since then, I’ve gotten married to my fellow-actor husband (ex-Phantom of the Opera, Richard Todd Adams). We are happily residing in New Jersey, raising our 6-year old, Nate (who wants to be a zoologist!) I am now a full-time performing arts teacher at North Star Academy’s West Side Park Middle school, in Newark. I get to work with some of the most hard-working, brightest, and most resilient students in one of the most underserved cities in our state. I teach them how to sing, dance, and communicate professionally so that they can eventually rock their college interviews, get their degrees, and pursue any career of their choosing. In-turn, my students have re-fueled my love for performing, and have made that passion relevant in a very real-world way. Every day I think about Ms. Herb, and the way she helped set me on my path that has led me to this incredibly blessed and purpose-filled life. I hope that in some way, I can affect my students’ lives the way she has affected mine.
My name is Maria Eberline and I am proud to be a graduate of OLP.