Under the Lights Again
On Wednesday, November 22, the stadium lights illuminated the field for another pre-Thanksgiving performance “Under the Lights.” The Clifton High School Mustang Band, under the direction of Bryan Stepneski, entertained a large crowd with a three-act show, featuring some of their season’s favorites. Introduced four years ago, this music-filled performance has taken the place of the annual Clifton-Passaic Thanksgiving Day football game, a long-standing tradition that came to an end in 2019. The stands were filled with family and friends, band alumni in their varsity jackets, and members of the community who came out for a night of music and entertainment with the Showband of the Northeast.
Wednesday evening’s performance, on a perfect autumn night, started with the band’s traditional pre-game show, led by Drum Majorette Sammy Bernal. Football fans saw the familiar floating M formation and other pre-game favorites…with one special change. As they do each year, instead of the script CHS unwinding from the tight formation on the field, the band started out in their script formation and “put it back in the box,” performing the drill in reverse as a symbolic close to their season.
After a brief water break, the band performed a favorite number from seasons past, chosen by its seniors - “Make Me Smile,” by Chicago. Listening to the Mustang Band’s rendition of this classic as they created a giant smiling face on the field, it was impossible not to feel uplifted during this upbeat number. They rounded out Act 2 with a longstanding traditional tear-jerker - “What I Did for Love,” from the musical A Chorus Line. For members of the band, this number is an emotional farewell, an ode to their time together.
Act 3 featured a series of crowd-pleasing numbers, some of the “best of the season.” It started with the theme song from “Indiana Jones,” a nod to the summer movie blockbuster, and morphed into “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses as the band moved into their next formation. In celebration of the band’s 85th anniversary, they played a 1985 favorite, “Take On Me” by A-ha. “Enter Sandman,” a Metallica tune from the early nineties, was their next transition tune.
The iconic Madonna was featured in a medley including “Like a Prayer,” “Into the Groove,” and “Material Girl,” sending band parents and other attendees of a certain age back to their teen years. Zipping ahead a few decades, the band next played “Animal” by Neon Trees and the theme from Super Mario Bros., another nod to the summer’s big-screen hits. Ending the night with their final movie-inspired music, the band played a snappy and fast-tempo version of “Part of Your World” from the live-action The Little Mermaid movie.
The Clifton High School Mustang Band is heading to New Orleans in February! The Band Parent Association is seeking donations to help send the Marching Mustangs on this exciting trip, where they will represent Clifton at several parades and jazz ensembles during Mardi Gras. Please click HERE to donate to their fundraising efforts, helping to ensure that every band member can participate.
Thanks to Director Bryan Stepneski, Assistant Directors Patrick Biernat, Juli-Anne Gamo, Robert Harsaghy, and Kasey Molner, Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts Jason Leshowitz, and the entire Clifton School District Administration for supporting music in our public schools. Thanks also to the many band parents whose support and enthusiasm are critical to the band’s success, and of course to the students, who practice tirelessly to learn new drills and music all season long…all to bring smiles to the community.
“Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love”