Theater community holds benefit concert for injured actor

- The local theater community came together Tuesday to raise money for a man attacked last week in front of a Target store.

Theatre Three in Uptown held a benefit to help pay for Derek Whitener's medical bills as he continues to recover. Before the concert, more than $100,000 had already been raised on his GoFundMe account.

Meanwhile, Dallas police say they're still looking for the two masked men who beat Whitener with a wooden rod on January 19. Investigators believe it was in "retaliation" after Whitener told a security guard there were two suspicious men outside.

Local actors, singers and musicians pulled together for the evening's entertainment. Actor Calvin Scott Roberts says the song selection was specifically for Derek Whitener.

"Anytime something like this happens, it's bad. It's a terrible thing,” Roberts said. “But it hits closer to home when it's someone you know. He's a part of our community."

The 33-year-old remains in the hospital after his attack. But friends say Whitener is improving.

"He's getting better every single day,” Roberts said. “I think the last day his spirits were up. He could sing a little bit. His eyes are open again. He's smiling."

Fundraising efforts have been aided by social media posts from Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who asked people to donate on Twitter. Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also posted a link to the GoFundMe page on Facebook.

Tyler Ferguson refers to the attack as a hate crime, though police are not investigating the attack as one.

Friends went live on Facebook with the benefit concert.

"Derek's going to get to see it, that people are here pulling for him, rooting for him,” said Jeffrey Schmidt. “I think even beyond the monetary help, I think it's to send that message to Derek."

Tickets to the benefit were free, but donations were taken. All the money raised will go help Whitener's family cover medical expenses and lost income.

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