As a youngster growing up in Pleasanton, a kid named Johnny seemed destined for a career as a singer and performer.

Attending Pleasanton Middle School, he helped found a drama group called Panther Players. And as a Foothill High School student, he earned key roles in the annual spring musicals.

So just who is this Pleasanton native? It's Johnny Orenberg, a star in the world of musical theater whose "singing and dancing is outstanding," according to a recent review in the San Francisco Examiner. Fortunately for us, we have a chance to see Orenberg perform in a benefit concert supporting Pleasanton elementary school band and strings programs.

The performance will take place at the Firehouse Arts Center on April 10 at 7:30 p.m. Accompanied by the Amador Valley High School Jazz Band, Orenberg will perform songs such as "The Way You Look Tonight," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," as well as Disney and Broadway favorites.

"Being able to share this experience with my former teacher, Mr. Aubel, and the students from my hometown is going to be one of the highlights of my career," said Orenberg.

In fact, Orenberg noted that despite his successes, he has never forgotten the people who helped him along the way. He enjoys giving back and believes that music is a "universal language" which every child should experience.

A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio, Orenberg received a degree in musical theater and moved to New York, where he was cast in "News in Revue," an off-Broadway political satire that won an Emmy Award.

Most recently, Orenberg starred in 42nd Street Moon Theatre's production of "Pal Joey," which won critical acclaim for his performance.

Pleasanton music teacher Mark Aubel said that Orenberg, who graduated from Foothill High in 2002, has conducted music workshops with many Pleasanton students. "It's great for the students to learn from someone who has had such success as a professional actor and singer," Aubel said.

The funds raised from the performance will support Pleasanton music programs through the nonprofit foundation Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment, which has received a generous donation from Fremont Bank to sponsor the April concert. For more information and to purchase tickets to "Here's Johnny!" visit www.firehousearts.org/events.

Supporting student newspaper: Since you're reading this newspaper column, it's a good bet you believe in the role of newspapers in a democratic society.

And that means you believe in educating young people about the value of the free press. So I hope you'll consider making a donation to support the costly process of producing the student newspaper at Las Positas College.

Now in its 25th year, the LPC Express teaches reporting skills to young journalists and the importance of objective news to some 8,500 student readers.

Donations or buying ad space will greatly help. Checks payable to "Express/Foundation" may be mailed to Melissa Korber, Las Positas College, 3000 Campus Hill Drive, Livermore, CA 94551. For advertising options, call Melissa at 925-424-1286 or email her mkorber@laspositascollege.edu.

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.