Al Pacino Joins Geoffrey Rush & More in Shakespeare Center Benefit

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Al Pacino Joins Geoffrey Rush & More in Shakespeare Center Benefit

Legendary actor Al Pacino joins fellow Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush for Simply Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, a one-night only staged benefit reading to support The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. Tony Award winner Dan Sullivan reunites Pacino (Shylock) with his Merchant of Venice Broadway stars Lily Rabe (Portia) and Hamish Linklater (Bassanio). All three actors originally appeared in Sullivan's 2010 production for the New York Shakespeare Festival's summer festival in Central Park which quickly transferred to Broadway for a limited sold-out run. Rush steps in to read the role of Antonio and Keith David will read the roles of the Duke of Venice and Solerio.

New to the cast are Finn Wittrock, Charlayne Woodard, Michael McKean and Harry Groener. Simply Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice will take place Monday, October 28 at 8pm at The Gindi Auditorium, American Jewish University.

Simply Shakespeare is a 28-year-old annual event to raise awareness and funds to benefit The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. At this event, Oscar winners, Tony winners and Grammy winners unite for a night of impromptu Shakespeare. The honorary Co-Chairs of Simply Shakespeare are Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks.

"For our 28th Simply Shakespeare benefit reading we wanted to explore a different dimension of Shakespeare's writing than our earlier annual events," said Ben Donenberg, Artistic Director for The Shakespeare Center. "So, to have Dan Sullivan reunite his cast of The Merchant of Venice-the great Al Pacino, Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater-and then to have Geoffrey Rush onboard will make for an extraordinary experience for our audience. Much thanks goes to our extraordinary and dedicated supporters, and Rita and Tom for their ongoing support for our work. We're also delighted to acknowledge that all funds raised will go directly to support our life-changing programs for at-risk youth and veterans in our community."

Prior to the reading at 7:30pm, LA attorney and author Bert Fields, will lead a discussion on Shakespeare and specifically on the character of Shylock, an enigmatic character who varies with each actor's interpretation. Fields is the author of several books including the 2005 Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare, which deals with the authorship of the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare, and the 2015 Shylock: His Own Story in which Fields gives Shylock's full story, his dangerous background, his life, loves and challenges as an educated Jew in 16th century Venice, the motivation for demanding his seemingly bizarre 'bond,' as well as what occurred after his fateful confrontation with Portia and the Doge.

There will be a dessert reception following the reading. Media Sponsor is Variety.

The Simply Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice staged reading takes place at The Gindi Auditorium on the campus of American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles 90077. Benefit tickets and sponsorships start at $500 and can be purchased at 310.559.9334 x102 or

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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