Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks host The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA) 26th Annual Simply Shakespeare benefit Monday, September 19, 2016 at 8:00pm at the Freud Playhouse, on the UCLA Campus.

The hilarious Smokin’ Shakespeare Motown Much Ado offers an evening of improvised Shakespeare and song featuring a Motown soundtrack provided by Smokey Robinson, and a star-studded cast including Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Martin Short, and Christina Applegate gallivanting their way through a very condensed version of Much Ado About Nothing. Additional participants will be announced shortly.

The evening includes a pre-show cocktail reception, followed by a post performance reception with the cast. All proceeds from the event support the SCLA and its arts-based employment programs for chronically unemployed veterans and urban youth, that blend White House award-winning immersive arts engagement for youth living at the poverty threshold, chronically unemployed vets and award-winning professional union contracted productions supported by a veteran workforce.

“Our organization is so fortunate to have such extraordinary and dedicated supporters,” said Ben Donenberg, Shakespeare Center Los Angeles founding Artistic Director. “We are thrilled with this year’s event, and grateful to Rita and Tom for providing us the opportunity to showcase SCLA’s work and raise funds to support our life-changing programs for at-risk youth and veterans in our community.”

Simply Shakespeare previous all-star casts have included Sir Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Bette Midler, Jackson Browne, Natalie Cole, Lyle Lovett, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Jason Alexander, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Mackie, Tim Allen, Christina Applegate, Annette Bening, Billy Crystal, Sally Field, Kelsey Grammer, Neil Patrick Harris, Kate Hudson, Helen Hunt, Eric Idle, Val Kilmer, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Martin, Matthew Perry, David Hyde Pierce, Jada Pinkett Smith, Keanu Reeves, Julia Roberts, Ray Romano, William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Martin Short, Will Smith, Sam Waterston, Robin Williams and Renee Zellweger.

Since 1985, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has been a vibrant hub of unique programs, performances and events designed to make Shakespeare accessible and engaging to all. SCLA enrolled 23 chronically unemployed veterans in technical theater training course at Santa Monica College while hiring those veterans and providing them on-the-job training backstage. Veterans In Art, SCLA’s successful transitional veterans employment initiative, provides for unemployed veterans and vets enrolled at SMC transitional summer employment in tandem with college accredited technical theater training. Will Power to Youth a White House awarded youth employment and academic enrichment program that immerses urban Los Angeles youth living at the poverty threshold in hands-on artistic experience with paid summer jobs, and training in the rigors of theater art making. The program has been nationally recognized for its effectiveness in reducing high school dropout rates and instilling a lifelong appreciation for Shakespeare and live theater. For more information on the Simply Shakespeare benefit performance or SCLA, please visit www.ShakespeareCenter.org.

Individual tickets start at $500; sponsorship packages available. For event information and sponsorship packages, please contact Harvin Rogas at 5B Events at (310) 559-9334, x-102 or by email at Harvin@5BEvents.com

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