The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, a professional and community-based non-profit theater company, is celebrating its 25th anniversary serving LA by creating accessible theater that builds community in innovative, unexpected ways.

With the recent budget cuts to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s arts programs, the Shakespeare Center Los Angeles’ actors and youth programming have become invaluable tools for promoting participation in live theater and the other performing arts with the city’s youth.

2010 also marks the 20th anniversary of Simply Shakespeare, the organization’s annual fundraising event, and in celebration of this milestone, co-chairs Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks and a star-studded cast, including Ewan McGregor, Helen Hunt and DulĂ© Hill, will perform a reading of “Much Ado About Nothing,” under the direction of Ben Donenberg, founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare Center Los Angeles. In addition, Jackson Browne will perform during the show, along with Sara and Sean Watkins.

As part of this successful fundraiser, Shakespeare Center Los Angeles is auctioning off a speaking role in the show, where the winner will participate in rehearsal, gain admission to the VIP post-show party and take a group photo with the cast, including Wilson, Hanks and Browne, which the cast will all sign. The auction is now open and will close on April 4 at 7:00pm PDT.

All proceeds from the eBay auction support Shakespeare Center Los Angeles and its nationally replicated summer youth employment and enrichment initiatives targeting young people living under severe economic strains.

Shakespeare Center Los Angeles’ Simply Shakespeare adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” is made possible by the support of Deutsche Bank. The reading will take place on Monday, April 12th at 7:30pm at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Tickets cost $350 and $500 and can be purchased through Lauran Huff at Levy Pazanti Associates. To reserve your tickets, call 310-201-5033 or email Lauran@lpaevents.com.

For more information on the Simply Shakespeare fundraiser or Shakespeare Center Los Angeles, please visit www.ShakespeareCenter.org.

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