Adam von Pier grew up in Fair Haven and currently resides in Eatontown, N.J. He earned his associate’s degree in business management from Brookdale in 2016. He is the resident stage manager/company manager for New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, N.J.
What factors led you to attend Brookdale?
The main factor that led me to Brookdale was cost. Four year universities can be so prohibitively expensive, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life at the time. I found Brookdale to be a far more practical option, as I could complete my general education courses and explore my interests while not breaking the bank. Not to mention, my commute to Brookdale was only 15 minutes. For me, it was a no-brainer.
What impact did Brookdale have on your personal and professional pursuits?
My time at Brookdale was transformative. Through high school, I thought college would be a waste of money. But I’m so glad that I went to Brookdale. Brookdale helped me to focus and to set goals. Though I’m working outside of my business degree, I discovered my current field of work through my time in clubs on campus. I can earnestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without Brookdale.
What activities you were involved with on campus?
I had never been interested in theater but after spending college hours in the Performing Arts Center surrounded by the energy and the colorful characters, I was hooked. I became president of the Theater Club. To this day, I still try to return for every play and even to act in Haunted Theater.
Any members of the Brookdale community who especially influenced you?
I fear there’s not enough time to list everyone! Matt Walker, the master carpenter in charge of building sets for plays, taught me so much. John Bukovec gave me a shot at acting in a short play on campus. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Gina Zeigler, Danielle MacDonald and Lauren Cervasio in the box office always took the time to answer questions.
But unquestionably, the person who had the largest impact was Sherri Vanderspiegel. A no-nonsense, straight-shooting powerhouse, Sherri runs the Performing Arts Center with unmatched skill and possesses a passion for the arts. It was Sherri who led me down the path of stage management after seeing glimpses of potential. She gave me numerous opportunities to stage manage plays and musicals and even gave me a job as a student worker in the Performing Arts Center. I consider her to be Brookdale’s hidden treasure.
Can you give us an overview of your professional career post-Brookdale?
I’ve been working for NJ Rep for the last three years. My job is to run the shows from behind the scenes. My job begins weeks before the start of rehearsals, prepping the rehearsal space and organizing travel and housing accommodations for actors, directors and playwrights. During rehearsals, I record everything that is going on from the actors’ movements on stage to notes which the directors need relayed to the design staff. And once our shows open, it’s my job to run the show from behind the scenes.
I understand that you recently made your professional debut as an actor. Tell us about that first.
I played the character of Tommy in the world premiere of Chris Daftsios’ play Lily at NJ Rep. After I left Brookdale, I was sure my acting days were over. But when NJ Rep chose to do a staged reading of Lily, the playwright was having difficulty finding an actor who could sing opera to fill the role of Tommy. After an audition over Skype, I was cast. The play was chosen to be produced by our theater, and I was asked to act in the show. I spent about six months working on the opera song with Brookdale adjunct professor Cynthia Balme. The show ran for five weeks, and we received rave reviews. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Any plans to do some more acting?
I had my moment in the spotlight, and I’m quite happy being back as a stage manager. But never say never.
Any final thoughts about Brookdale?
My time at Brookdale was very special. I expected to go for a couple of years, take a few classes, graduate and settle into some desk job. At Brookdale, I discovered a whole new world. Brookdale led me to theatre and through theatre, I’ve gained a career and some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. I can’t thank Brookdale enough for that.