Adam Kendrick
Adam Kendrick pauses before going behind the curtain to stage-manage a performance of Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia.”

Adam Kendrick’s workplace is often a circus — literally. But as a former HokieBird used to entertaining a stadium filled with Virginia Tech fans, he is undaunted by having to cue clowns, signal crew members to bring up spotlights, and ensure acrobats are properly placed.

It’s that fearlessness that helped lead to Kendrick’s being named the 2018–2019 Outstanding Recent Alumnus for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“The board members were impressed with how quickly Adam successfully ascended in his career and how he used his talents to serve others,” said Grayson Gosney, a 1996 graduate in sociology who serves as president of the college’s Alumni Advisory Board, which selected Kendrick for the honor.

“Adam’s dedication to making sure the audience experience is uplifting — whether it was portraying our HokieBird, his behind-the-scenes stage management, or his performances — serves as an inspiration for us all,” Gosney added. “I was fortunate to see Adam’s talent at work during the Atlanta run of Cirque du Soleil’s amazing and complicated ‘Luzia’production.” 

Kendrick, who graduated from Virginia Tech in 2010 with degrees in both theatre arts and marketing management, is a stage manager for Cirque du Soleil’s North American Tour of “Luzia,” a show inspired by the richness of Mexican culture.

Cirque du Soleil, which translates to “circus of the sun,” is one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of live entertainment, bringing original performances under big tops and in theatres or arenas. Each production, like “Luzia,” is a blend of circus styles from around the world, each with its own story.

When he’s not on the road, Kendrick performs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the city he calls home. He also has side gigs in New York City. At the annual Tony Awards, he is a telecast orchestra aisle captain, assisting with the seating of nominees and other attendees. For two years, he has stage-managed the Stars in the Alley Outdoor Concert in Times Square. 

In addition, Kendrick volunteers for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. There he is a talent host for celebrities at the Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction and a stage manager for the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser performance, Broadway Bares.”

Kendrick learned early about the magic of making people happy, whether it was as the HokieBird or a first-time paid stage manager for a small professional theatre near his hometown of Hopewell, Virginia.

“I’m always reminded of the difference you can make through performance,” he says. “You can make people smile and laugh. You can have an impact.”

But Kendrick also knows the importance of behind-the-scenes work. Every person involved in any production creates the entire experience, which he has overseen for the past nine years with Cirque du Soleil. 

“As a stage manager, I keep the show going no matter what happens,” he said. “My job is like a puzzle. Every day I have a different collection of pieces, and every day I’m responsible for making them form a coherent, enjoyable picture.”

Written by Leslie King and photographed by Rachel Salzmen; this article originally appeared in the 2018–19 issue of Illumination, the annual magazine of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.