You don’t know Jack: Clifford brings light to CHS theater

The next time the Carmel High School theater hosts some convicted witches or perhaps a film about fracking that gives an AP Chem class a little change of pace, take a quick glance at the lighting and sound booth. There’s a figure lurking up there who creates those perfectly timed gong sounds and the precise lighting cues that seem to provide just the right amount of ominous shadows. It’s Jack Clifford, and that’s right kids, Jack is back.

For all who were not attending CHS back in 2012, Jack Clifford was among the legends that comedically, tragically and dramatically filled the walls of the theater.

Both staff members Tom Parry and Kristine Tarozzi remember the times of Clifford’s talent shining on stage.

“Jack did a skit,” dance teacher Tarozzi recalls, “and he wore a wedding dress. He was hilarious and talented on stage. That’s how I remember him.”

Parry, an assistant principal, also looks back on Clifford’s high school acting career fondly, remembering him as a passionate and hardworking actor above all else.

“We knew he would just fit in perfectly here because he knows how the theater works, and I know for me, it’s nice to have Jack back,” Parry says with a smile.

Tarozzi concurs with Parry’s statements about Clifford being a perfect fit, adding that with the unique culture of CHS, they wanted to find someone who could appreciate everything the theater has to offer to the students, and Jack is just that.

Since middle school, Clifford’s relationship with the arts was clear and simple: “The theater program is my haven.”

“He played a grumpy, old man in seventh grade with Mr. [Patrick] Stadille,” computer science teacher and father Tom Clifford reminisces, “and he was hooked.” The senior Clifford was right, and Jack hasn’t stopped since.

Because of this undying passion, Clifford continued his theater training at St. Mary’s College, and due to the liberal arts emphasis of the university, Clifford was submerged into all facets of theater, including lighting and sound, effectively preparing him for his current position at CHS.

“He’s very knowledgeable about technical theater issues and has been extremely helpful with everything,” drama teacher Gracie Poletti notes. “He also knows how to turn all of the lights on, so I don’t have to sit in the dark too long.”

CHS is not the only home to Clifford’s artistic talents; Carmel Middle School’s production of “My Teacher is an Alien” allows Clifford to work closely with a group of hungry, young actors alongside Drama teacher Patrick Stadille.

“They’re all really talented and want to learn, so, I feel like I’m making some difference in their lives.” Clifford laughs. “And it is easier to feel like their superiors than at CHS when I’m, like, the same age as the students.”

Stadille says it simply: “Jack is enthusiastic, cool and knowledgeable.”

When asked what Clifford wants the students to know about him, he responds humbly, saying that “there is just something about being in a theater. It’s home, and I just want everyone to respect it.”

If one ever attends a performance in the theater, there will be a creature lurking in the depths of the theater, programming lighting cues and bobbing his head slightly to The Strokes or Arcade Fire, and his name is Jack Clifford.

-Becca Goren