Hal Sparks — of "Queer as Folk" fame — will replace the previously announced Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Jan Brandel. Rene Auberjonois and Bruce Davison have also joined the company, reading the roles of, respectively, Berger and Emil.
The actors join a company that includes Andre De Shields (as Sam), Sir Ben Kingsley (as Louie Renault), Theodore Bikel (as Carl), James Cromwell (as Major Strasser), Edward Hermann (as 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 (Tommy Lee Jones, Eric Szmanda and Michael York, who were originally announced to be part of the reading, have withdrawn from the cast.)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).
Rene Auberjonois has been seen on Broadway in Sly Fox, Dance of the Vampires, City of Angels, Metamorphosis, Big River, Break a Leg, The Good Doctor, Tricks, Twelfth Night, Coco, Fire!, A Cry of Players and King Lear. Bruce Davison's Broadway credits include Tiger at the Gates, The Elephant Man and the 1983 revival of The Glass Menagerie. Davison received an Academy Award nomination and won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the film "Longtime Companion."
Actor-comedian Hal Sparks plays Michael Charles Novotny on the Showtime series "Queer as Folk." He also hosted TV's "Talk Soup" from 1999-2000, and his other screen credits include "Lightning Bug," "Bleacher Bums," "Dude, Where's My Car?" and "Lost & Found."
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.