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Local Theater Company Plans Benefit to Aid Hurricane Sandy Victims

Show Scheduled for Saturday February 9 at OCC

A theater company formed to bring the arts to Toms River will raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts with their production of Broadway For The Beach 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Ocean County Arts and Cultural Center on the Ocean County College Campus in Toms River.

"We wanted to do something easy and give people a good escape and fun night out," said show producer Sean Openshaw. "Art is an escape for people where they can forget about their troubles for one-and-a-half hours."

Twenty-four Exit 82 Theatre Company members, ages 17 to 35, and other local performers will perform two acts of show tunes, some solo pieces and some full-on dance numbers, according to Openshaw. 

"The storm impacted so many in the community in so many different ways," he said. "Everyone's working together to get back on their feet. It's all for a good cause to support the community. People will not be bored."

Openshaw said the company decided they wanted to do something to help their family, friends and neighbors whose lives have been disrupted by the storm.  They determined the best way to help was by holding a fundraising concert to benefit the Toms River-based Hometown Heroes.

"We wanted to find an organization that tracked where the money went and Hometown Heroes was already existing," said Openshaw. "We know it will be going to families and things people need."

Mike Schwartz, founder of Hometown Heroes, said the organization has been around for four years with a mission to provide assistance to families and individuals who suddenly find themselves in crisis and since Sandy, storm relief has become their major focus.

"We are raising funds to handle requests for individual's needs," said Schwartz.  "We appreciate the confidence the public has in us."

Since the hurricane, Schwartz said they have assisted 600 separate cases, helping pay rent, security deposits and utility bills, buy furniture and provide food — whatever the specific needs are of a family or individual.  He said most of the cases are in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, but they've helped people from New York down to South Jersey.

"We can't rebuild homes, but we can give a month's rent to keep families together," he said. "We help figure out how to bridge the gap back to normalcy."

Those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and in need of assistance from Hometown Heroes must fill out a Sandy Request Form.

At the benefit concert, Hometown Heroes will have a table where they will be selling raffle tickets to win a motorcycle autographed by 3 Doors Down, Martina McBride and Daughtry. They also will be selling official Restore the Shore merchandise.

Tickets are $20 each and available for purchase online. Exit 82 Theatre Company was formed in 2008 and has involved hundreds of volunteers and performed to thousands of patrons in the last four seasons. This year's shows will include Young Frankenstein in August and White Christmas in December.

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