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Norwalkers Will Sing for Nicaragua

Lining up singer-songwriter P.J. Pacifico to do a benefit concert wasn't difficult for Norwalk teacher Tom Kretsch. Pacifico and many of the other talented performers involved in Saturday's cabaret "In Harmony, Blending Voices, Building Dreams" remember when Kretsch towered over them. They were children and Kretsch was their physical education teacher at Columbus Magnet School .

"I just got to know the kids well and followed their careers," said Kretsch, a teacher at Norwalk schools for 36 years. "We contacted them and they were very gracious in volunteering to offer their time and talents for the evening."

The show, to be held in Bridgeport, benefits the community development program of the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project in Nagarote, Nicaragua . Nagarote is in one of the poorest barrios in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but thanks to the 25-year-old program there are now 180 young people in after-school classes, 34 in a preschool program, 70 scholarship students, 20,000 trees grown from seed and planted throughout town, an organic community garden, a 2-acre model organic farm, and a new community center in the works.

Pacifico, a Norwalk High graduate, has toured throughout the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic States. He has just released his second CD, "Always and Everywhere." One of the album's songs was written by Steven Ferentzy, who is also in the show. Ferentzy remembers Kretsch from Honey Hill Elementary School .

Norwalk High grad Jill Pascucci is flying in from California to be in the show. Other performers include Damon Grant, David Winkworth, Elba Llantin Cruz, Steven and Jon DeTroy, Toni-Ann and Larry Mattera, and Alex Handler, who performed as Jean Valjean in last year's Norwalk High production of "Les Miserables."

Emily Hall, who has Broadway credits in addition to work in regional theater, film and as a concert performer, remembers Kretsch from Columbus. "It's that kind of a connection with a lot of people," Kretsch said.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Downtown Cabaret Theater , located at 263 Golden Hill St. in Bridgeport. For tickets, e-mail nncpspecialevents@yahoo.com or call Kretsch at (203) 227-1528.

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