News

Their eyes will be smiling for local charities

Friday, March 15, 2013

By JANINE LEFFLER

Correspondent

Looking to get out and support a great cause on St. Patrick’s Day? Check out the 13th annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Show, presented by the Knights of Columbus and John O Sings.

The event features traditional Irish entertainment lineup, and a corned beef and cabbage dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at St. John Neumann Hall, 101A Pennichuck Square, 708 Milford Road in Merrimack. Proceeds will support the Nancy O Fund and the Knights of Columbus charities.

The Nancy O Children’s Performing Arts Fund was founded in 1994 by John and Diane Ogrodowczyk, in memory of their daughter Nancy Ogrodowczyk, who died unexpectedly April 16, 1994, the day before her 27th birthday, due to her lifelong asthma.

Nancy was a dancer, singer and musician, who shared her talents in many ways. She
especially loved musical theater and appeared in many productions, including the leading role in the Nashua Actorsingers production of “42nd Street.” An accomplished pianist, she was the accompanist at summer stock musicals and community theater, including the Nashua Jr. Actorsingers. In addition, Nancy loved to teach dance to children at the Academy of Movement in Nashua. And as a French teacher at Souhegan High School in Amherst, Nancy brought music and drama into her classroom. She was a big part of the school’s drama department, choreographing and teaching dance routines for the musical productions.

In December, John Ogrodowcyzk received a letter from Lisa Waller, a doctor who studies pediatric pulmonary medicine at Elliot Hospital. He said he was touched by the letter because Waller was a student of Nancy’s and her death led her to study medicine.

“She contacted me because Zebra Crossings is developing an Asthma Camp this summer which will take place in the Lakes Region,” Ogrodowcyzk said.

“The programming of the program will also include performance components like music, singing, etc. I have already met personally with Lisa and Astrid, the executive director of Zebra Crossings, to talk about the Asthma Camp and I am so excited. This is just the kind of extension of the Nancy O Fund’s mission that I was seeking. And, it dropped into my lap out of nowhere.

“My Irish shows this March will raise money for the Nancy O Fund and I, personally, will be looking forward to being involved in the performing aspects of the Asthma Camp this summer.”

The Irish Music Benefit shows will feature local performers Jeff Moore of Nashua, Jann Taylor of Amherst, Fiona Graham of Wilton, Bill Cashman of Merrimack and Pete Sessions of Hudson, and a group of dancers from the McGonagle School of Irish Dance in Nashua.

The McGonagle School of Irish Dance has been involved in the Irish Music Show since 2004. Ashlynn Rockwell of Brookline started participating in the Irish Music show when she was a junior at Hollis Brookline High School in 2008.

Rockwell explained what sets Irish Dance apart from other dance.

“It involves a lot of upper body control, endurance and stamina,” she said.

Rockwell said she looks forward to being able to perform and helping out a good cause.

“John O is appreciative of our help and it’s good to work with somebody who is equally as passionate about Irish Step Dancing as we are,” Rockwell said.

Moore, an accordion player, has been performing with Ogrodowczyk since 2001 and looks forward each year to the Irish music benefit show.

“It’s really great to play for him because he is an amazing talent and it is a big honor to play for him,” Moore said.

“The spirit of this show is really special. It’s for a really good cause. I love doing it and the feeling I get when the audience responds to a performance.”

In 2010, Moore founded Interlude Music School to inspire musicians of all ages and skill levels to play music.

The school in Manchester offers expert musical instruction on instruments, including accordion, piano, guitar, bass and drums.

For more information, visit InterludeMusicSchool.com.

Ticket for 13th annual St. Patrick’s Day Benefit Dinner Show are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $17 for ages 12-17, children younger than 12 get in free.

For tickets, call Bill Emerson at 672-7021, or Joe Murphy at 321-7977. For more information on the show or the Nancy O Fund, visit www.johno sings.com.

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