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Aug 21st
Home Columns San Diego Happenings Fil-Am Artist Makes Good in "Carmen" Broadway Show
Fil-Am Artist Makes Good in "Carmen" Broadway Show PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Friday, 20 July 2007 01:27

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Friday, 20 July 2007

~~ Unknown to many of us, a Filipino is currently making a name for herself on stage at the La Jolla Playhouse. Maria Eberline, a San Diego native of a Filipino mother and a German-Welsh father, is in the ensemble playing a variety of roles in the musical interpretation of Carmen, now playing to capacity crowds till Sunday, July 22nd.


'Drama, music -- they're intrinsic to Filipino culture,' says San Diego-born artist of 'Carmen'


SAN DIEGO -- Ask Maria Eberline and she would tell you pointblank that outside the realm of medicine, law, engineering and allied sciences -- traditional fields of expertise for most Filipinos -- there's another area out there where Filipinos could excel.

"Why should it be a surprise?" she ripostes, throwing back the question of the seeming dearth of Filipino talents in the arena of musical theatre years after the world-famous Lea Salonga opted for domestic bliss.

"Drama, music and aesthetic beauty are all so intrinsic to the Filipino culture. They are as viable and as important to our world as medicine or law," she explains.

That statement finds immediate validation in her own person, this beautiful blend of East and West by the name of Maria Eberline who dreams of creating a role in a Broadway show someday.

Maria Eberline is in the ensemble, so she plays a variety of roles in this world premier musical interpretation of Carmen, the Proper Merimee's brutal tale of a tortured soldier and his gypsy lover.

She also understudies two major roles. So at times she's Carmen, at times Micaela.

The musical -- a classic story of love and betrayal told from the perspective of Jose, a soldier who becomes ensnared by the stunningly beautiful seductress Carmen, played by Janien Valentine -- is directed by Franco Dragone of Cirque du Soleil fame. It's currently playing to capacity crowds in San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse.

Maria Theresa Eberline is of Filipino and German and Welsh descent who, while growing up a mestiza in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista, thought she was Mexican.

When the family moved to the predominantly Filipino community of Paradise Hills south of the city, something dawned on her. "It was a complete culture shock for me," she says after realizing her cultural identity was Filipino rather than Mexican.

As early as when she was four, Maria's original interest had been in dance. When puberty hit and the "ballerina body" wasn't to be hers, she shifted to musical theater where she could still dance.

How she started her singing was probably a tribute to her Filipina mother Aida, who was a hairdresser before she became entrepreneur and now owner of a successful beauty shop called Young Ideas Hair Salon.

"My mom got voice lessons for me in high school from our choir director using the barter system (free haircuts for free voice lessons," Maria now recalls.

She went on to get formal training at the University of California Los Angeles where she received a BA in Theater.

"I couldn't have done any of it without my parents cheering me on every step of the way," Maria stresses, at the same time praising his dad Bill who retired from the Navy after 22 years and is now a carpenter and kitchen cabinet designer for Home Depot.

"My parents had their concerns about me making a living, I'm sure, but it never deterred them from encouraging me to follow my dreams," she says.

Maria believes she took from her father and mother who she says are both artistic."I think they sort of live vicariously through me because I am actually pursuing and living the type of careers they wanted," she explains.

"They both are good singers. All three of us used to sing in the church choir; that's actually how I got my start in singing," Maria avers.

In the recent press preview, Maria played in the first act a Spanish woman who works in the cigar factory alongside Carmen and the other Gypsy women.

"Although they work together at the same job, the Spanish women still felt a superiority over the Gypsies," she says. "It¹s interesting to get to play a Gypsy in the second act (I play the tavern owner¹s wife)--as a Gypsy, I was allowed to be more free-spirited and playful, not tied down by religious hypocrisy that was rampant in their world."

Here's the Question & Answer part of the interview:

Q: Do you have a personal experience in your family about having to do more

just to prove you're better off than others? Are you political?

A: Not really...I was never about proving that I was better off than anyone. I was always very grateful for what I had. One trip to the Philippines when I was young made me see that. I feel very proud of my mother for what she had to endure to build a life for our family. Both of my parents worked very hard to provide the best that they could for me. I am not partisan to any political affiliation per se...I think that most politicians tell you what they think you want to hear, not what you need to hear.

Q: I suppose you know that in Filipino families, the expectation for the child to excel or achieve more than the parents is so great that it seems unreasonable to be pushed beyond one's capacity. Have you in fact been treated that way?

A: My mother is from a province in the Philippines called Catanduanes, in the Bicol region. Her brother Leo was just elected mayor of their town! My father is essentially of German and Welsh descent...Yes, both of my parents were very vocal about wanting me to achieve more than they did in life. But more importantly, they always encouraged me to "Be the best ME that I could be." It¹s something they still say to me! They¹ve never pushed me beyond my own capacity. I anything, their guidance has led me to be my own toughest critic. I think I was always harder on myself than they ever were on me.

Q: What in your opinion is the relevance of Carmen, the person being dramatized, in Carmen the musical in contemporary times?

A: In our show, Carmen sings a song called "Ah Men," where she basically challenges the women she works with to stand up for themselves in their abusive relationships. I think this show is still very relevant today in that regard, as domestic abuse is still a problem in our community. Carmen also tried to challenge people to follow their hearts and to pursue their passions--to not be led by money or power. She is a woman who called the shots in her life, even at her death.

Q: What did you do before joining the cast of Carmen? Is this a big break for you as an artist? What role do you aspire to play ? If you were made to choose, which musical do you want to be in, why, in what role?

A: Before CARMEN, I was in the National tour of WICKED, where I performed in the ensemble and understudied the roles of Elphaba and Nessarose, the Wicked Witches in the Land of Oz. I was very excited to be cast in CARMEN! I have never been a part of a new project of this scale, and it¹s been exciting to

create a show from the ground-up! I would still love to play Eponine in LES MISERABLES, I would also love to return to WICKED and actually own the role of Elphaba someday. But I really just dream of doing something new, of creating a role in a Broadway show!

BREAKING NEWS - Weekend Feature

A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 07:50

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