Andre De Shields will play Sam, Neil Patrick Harris will be Jan Brandel and Sir Ben Kingsley will portray Louie Renault in the May 1 reading at California's Pantages Theatre. The actors join the previously announced Theodore Bikel (as Carl), James Cromwell (as Major Strasser), Edward Hermann (Signor Ferrari) and Jennifer Tilly (as Yvonne). (Tommy Lee Jones, Eric Szmanda and Michael York, who were originally announced to be part of the reading, have withdrawn from the cast.)
The 4 PM reading of the landmark Warner Bros. screenplay — adapted by David Rambo — will benefit the Actors' Fund of America. "Casablanca" follows acclaimed readings of "All About Eve" and "Sunset Boulevard." Peter Hunt will direct the reading of the new stage take on the screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch.
The Morocco-set story of "Casablanca" follows the chance meeting of an American exile night club owner and his former love at the titular gateway city during World War II. The film — starring Bogart and Ingrid Bergman — won 1944 Academy Awards for Best Director (Michael Curtiz), Best Picture (Hal B. Wallis) and Best Writing (Epstein, Epstein and Koch).
Nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway production of The Full Monty, Andre De Shields re-created his role as Noah "Horse" T. Simmons for the London production. He received another Tony nomination for his performance in Play On! and also starred on Broadway in The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' and Haarlem Nocturne.
Neil Patrick Harris, most recently on Broadway in Assassins, also portrayed the Emcee in the Tony-winning revival of Cabaret. His other stage appearances include the New York company of Proof, the L.A. company of Rent and the Reprise! production of Sweeney Todd. His screen credits include "Undercover Brother," "Doogie Howser, M.D.," "Stark Raving Mad" and "Joan of Arc." Sir Ben Kingsley has been seen on Broadway in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Edmund Kean. The actor won an Academy Award for his performance in "Gandhi" and was also Oscar-nominated for his work in "Bugsy," "Sexy Beast" and "House of Sand and Fog."
The Actors' Fund of America is the only national non-profit organization that provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. For more information, visit www.actorsfund.org.
The Pantages Theater is located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard. Tickets, priced $28-$153, are available through The Actors’ Fund by calling (323) 933 9244, ext. 54 or 35. Sponsorship/VIP packages, priced $250-$25,000, are also available.