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Clifton’s Theatre League

By on June 23, 2020

CLIFTON, NU – Sadie Bevando and Joseph Rivera II, members of the Clifton High School (CHS) Class of 2020, are the recipients of the annual scholarship award presented by the Theater League of Clifton. The two CHS seniors will be attending Montclair State University (MSU) this fall. Each student will receive $250 to continue their studies at the university level.

Mark Peterson, (in photo) the president of the Theater League, coordinated with Jody Springer, CHS central wing school counselor, in the scholarship selection process. “Since our inception in 2005, the Theater League of Clifton’s primary goal has been to encourage our youth to engage in the arts,” Peterson said. “Contributing towards the education of students, either monetarily or by inviting all ages to participate in our productions has been at the forefront of our mission. It gives me great pleasure on the behalf of the Theater League of Clifton, to award two deserving students each a scholarship, as they pursue plans to further their education upon their high school graduation. We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them every good wish for a bright and successful future.”

Bevando has selected Theater Production and Design as her major at MSU. “I began studying (theater design) at Clifton High School two years ago,” she said. “Knowing my time would be short there, I made sure to cram in as many experiences as possible. In a mere two years, I received so much more than one can imagine. During that time I got to reunite with my old friends and connect with new teachers who are passionate and care about their students. I was offered the opportunity to involve myself in school activities and work together with other students on projects that got the gears in our minds churning. Clifton High School opened my eyes to the world of back-stage theater.”

“I’ve chosen to study production design because it allows me to work backstage alongside actors and create artistic pieces that can be used as staple pieces in a production,” Bevando continued. “My career goal is to be a costume designer because it combines the world of theater, fashion, and history all into one. Three subjects that I am passionate about and can expand during my next four years of study. I love how you can use your creative imagination to combine your visuals with factual references to create an artistic piece. That piece would then be used as a costume, prop, or set in a theatre production. I am thrilled to be starting my college career at Montclair State University, and I cannot wait to begin studying costume design alongside my new professors this fall.”

Rivera will enter MSU with a major in Television and Digital Media. “My days at Clifton High School were definitely days to cherish in my heart. I was very involved within my community, such as being a part of Student Council, Key Club, Anime Club, and I was a part of the Baseball and Wrestling Teams,” he recalled. “In these clubs I was a part of I held officer positions, I was the Key Club Editor, SCA (Student Council Association) corresponding secretary, and vice president of the Anime Club. The biggest thing I was a part of in my school is the CAST program, this program has taught me a lot with video recording and editing and the influencer for me to choose what I wanted to pursue in life. I have taken an internship with the main teacher and he has taught me so much there is to provide with the program.”

“My plans are to be a film director. The Television and Digital Media program at MSU will allow me to take my internship experience to a new level. I believe it will help me build my career in film. The programs will allow me to broaden my skills in using editing software, understanding what is needed at a film site, and producing content people will watch and enjoy.”

Lisa Poggi, CHS drama teacher and musical director, offered words of praise for the two CHS seniors. “As drama teacher and spring musical director at Clifton High School, I am so proud of Joe and Sadie. Both have taken Drama 1 and were top students in their classes. Their hard work and creativity really added to the class dynamic. Joe performed a wonderful pantomime including sound effects and music, impressing the whole class. This year Sadie was a huge help as costume assistant for the spring musical. She is a talented seamstress and has a great eye for fashion. I’m so happy to have these two students represent the Performing Arts Program at CHS.”

Julie Chrobak, CHS stagecraft teacher and stage crew advisor, also lauded the students. “Being a member of our stage crew the past two years as well as being in my stagecraft class this year, I have seen Sadie’s talent as a scenic artist stage manager and assisting with costume designs for our shows. Her leadership skills and creativity have been such an asset to our theater community here at Clifton High School. It’s been an honor to work with such a talented, hard-working student. I can think of no one more deserving of the TLC scholarship.”

Bevando received the Theater League’s Joanne Mazzarisi Memorial Scholarship. John Traier, Theater League treasurer, said the memorial scholarship was established in 2007 with a donation by the Mazzarisi family to honor their late daughter, who graduated from CHS 1974. Joanne enjoyed a successful stage and movie career, including a recurring role on a daytime soap opera. Unfortunately, her career was cut short by her untimely passing in 1997 during a medical procedure while under anesthesia.

“Her dreams upon graduation of becoming an actress were fulfilled and realized by Joanne and her family,” Traier said. “So we honor Joanne as others follow her in her footsteps in obtaining their dreams.”

Members of the Theater League of Clifton’s executive board include Peterson; Traier; Jalmari Vanamo, vice president; Stephanie Peterson-Yoda, vice president; Elizabeth Eisenmenger, secretary; Clifton Councilwoman Rosemary Pino; Barbara Novak; Raymond Robertello; Christine Potash; Beth Kearney; Kim Castellano; Diane Morrell; and Michael Gabriele.

The Theater League of Clifton is a non-profit community organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the arts through theatrical performances, while providing quality entertainment for all ages. The Theater League welcomes volunteers in all aspects of performance and production.

Visit the organization’s website ( for updates and information on the group’s activities. Despite the restrictions of social distancing imposed by state and local officials due to concerns over Covid-19, the Theater League is hoping to resume performances later this year for its fall season.

By M. Gabriele