By Michael Hartwell

MediaNews

GARDNER -- Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino said it's a little weird having facial hair for the first time, but he's doing it for a good cause.

Asquino is one of more than 16 contestants in "Survivor, the Musical," an upcoming Theatre at the Mount production that he said is already close to meeting its goal of raising $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Asquino started growing a beard to play one of the three wisemen in his church's Christmas production and said he was talked into keeping it for the "Survivor" production.

Asquino said he's never sat through an episode of the TV show "Survivor" that the production uses as a rough template. Contestants are all public figures, including WPKZ radio personality Ray "Ray C" Chalifoux, Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata Martin and the heads of other local organizations and businesses.

He said the song and dance routine will be a small portion of the production and he's "not uncomfortable" with that part.

"There's going to be some trivia questions, they're no eating of snakes or anything radical. I was assured of that going in," he said.

The production is not scripted and contestants will be split into two teams and eliminated individually as the show goes on. At one intermission, contestants will have to hit up audience members for donations and the one who comes in last will be booted.

Asquino said the show will take place at Mount Wachusett Community College on Jan. 17.

Tickets are $20 for the performance at 7:30 p.m., or $100 for the performance and a dinner that starts at 5:30 p.m. in the school's dining area. Christ Casello of Theatre at the Mount is the show's creator and its host.

The goal for the performance is to raise $50,000 for the local Boys & Girls Club.

"I'm pretty certain we'll do that," said Asquino. He said the event's sponsors have already taken them most of the way there.

The Boys & Girls Club has had a presence in Fitchburg and Leominster since 2001 and works with youths ages 8-18. In August 2008 it moved to Lindell Avenue in Leominster in a former school building, complete with classrooms, a gymnasium, a teen center and green space outside.

"From its beginning, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has benefited from the generosity of individuals, corporations and organizations," said M. Marcus Moran Jr., president of the Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors and president and CEO of Aubuchon Hardware in a prepared statement. "We thank the community for its ongoing support of the club and its many fine programs through fundraising events and volunteerism, and we are grateful to Mount Wachusett Community College for serving as our primary sponsor and host of this upcoming event."

For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, contact Patty Fields at email pfields@bgcfl.org or 978-534-8358, ext. 17. Dinner and theater tickets may also be purchased through MWCC by contacting Lois Cox at lcox@mwcc.mass.edu or 978-630-9101. Tickets for just the performance are available through the box office at www.mwcc.edu/tam or 978-630-9388.

Asquino hasn't decided if he's going to keep the beard when the show ends.

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