Jerry Nadal: Bending Over Backward for Charity

JERRY NADAL IS NESTLED IN A CORNER inside Vintner Grill’s private dining room set against a dazzling chrome-and-glass wine wall stocked with seminal vintages. He’s nibbling on salad while sipping iced tea and chatting in a rapid-fire staccato—a Brooklyn native, he thinks fast and talks faster. He is tall and long-limbed, courteous, and thoughtful.

Nadal is Senior Vice President for Cirque du Soleil’s Resident Shows Division. A dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment, Cirque du Soleil produces eight shows annually in Las Vegas for a combined 7,500 performances. “We entertain 15 million people a year, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Nadal said. “We employ 1,700 people from 40 different countries in Las Vegas alone.”

As Cirque’s administrative ringmaster, Nadal handles a myriad of duties from human resources and logistics to sales and marketing. Show business got under his skin at an early age. Nadal’s large bluecollar family embraced the arts and frequently attended Broadway shows. Yet, he was pragmatic and studied management at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. After graduation Nadal decided to take a year off before going to law school. He worked jobs in banking and shipping before destiny came knocking.

“I took a position as a stage manager with the Equity Theater for five dollars a day,” Nadal said. “Everyone thought I was crazy. But once I started doing theater work, I found my passion.”

Nadal spent several years traveling the country as a stage manager. He bounced around from show to show overseeing design, lighting, and performers, among other things. The job sometimes meant packing up a U-Haul truck and driving 200 miles to the next town for a performance. Nadal worked on the touring production of Cabaret and did dinner theater in Connecticut. Shows might last three months or two years. “I was constantly sending out resumes,” said Nadal. “I never knew where my next job was going to come from.”

Nadal thrived on the intimate interaction with artists and absence of a routine. He liked the challenge of putting on a nightly performance, which taught him to anticipate problems and troubleshoot. He also learned to be patient and the importance of paying attention to detail. “You never know what you’re going to get,” Nadal said. “You don’t get stuck in a rut.”

Nadal was working as a show stage manager at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City when he met understudy and chorus member Gene Lubas. The two connected instantly and have been together for over two decades now. Six and a half years ago they adopted twin boys, Harrison and Wilson.

Nadal first came to Southern Nevada in 1993 with Troika Entertainment as production manager for Starlight Express during its run at the Las Vegas Hilton. He later toured with the national production of Grease before joining Cirque du Soleil. “I remember seeing Mystère and being blown away by the artistry,” said Nadal.

Nadal encountered a major learning curve at Cirque. Most performers are former athletes used to playing competitive sports; at Cirque they have to adapt to a collaborative effort with no solo stars. Many are ex-champion gymnasts from Eastern Europe who have to learn English. There is a six- to nine-month training program in acting, singing, and dancing, plus work with a sports psychologist.

“We’re like the United Nations, except it works,” Nadal said. “Cirque shows have a universality that transcends culture and language.”

Nadal’s first project with Cirque was in 1998, jet setting around the world with Alegria. In 2003 he returned to Las Vegas as company manager for KÀ. He has called Las Vegas home ever since. “I love the size and scale of Las Vegas,” said Nadal. “You can get involved and really make a difference.”

Nadal’s community involvement has indeed made a difference. He serves on the boards of directors for KNPR, ONE DROP, Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, and Nevada Ballet Theatre. “I have been blown away by people’s generosity,” Nadal said. “It’s inspiring to see the spirit of selflessness and dedication to making Southern Nevada a better place to live.”

Nadal and Cirque’s involvement with Nevada Ballet Theatre extends well beyond financial and technical support. The two organizations produce A Choreographers’ Showcase that gives artists an outlet to try out new works.

The ballet is a family affair for Nadal. His sons performed in last year’s production of The Nutcracker, and his partner Gene teaches contemporary dance. “Las Vegas has been very open and welcoming,” said Nadal. “There are a lot of people here who care deeply about the city.”

Previously published by diamondcake. Updated by smallTALK. Archived for Jerry Nadal.