Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson will take to the stage together this June for the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ production of “Henry IV,” TheWrap has learned.
The adaptation, which condenses two of Shakespeare’s famous plays, comes from artistic director Ben Donenberg and will be staged by Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan. Tom Ware acts as executive producer.
“Henry IV” will be performed outdoors at the Japanese Garden on the West Los Angeles VA Campus for a 24-night run from June 5-July 1.
The Shakespeare Center, in partnership with West LA VA, will donate 2,000 tickets for eligible veterans and active members of the military. To be eligible, they must register at ShakespeareCenter.org.
“We’re grateful to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the leaders of the West LA VA for this opportunity to bring our company to the Japanese Garden at the VA,” Donenberg said in a statement Monday. “We’re hiring and training 40 veterans to work on this production alongside consummate theater professionals to tell a riveting story about the forging of a Shakespearean hero.
“We’re proud to bring the vision of one of the American theatre’s most esteemed Broadway directors and the talents a world-class cast lead by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, our long-time supporters, to this very special venue,” he added.
According to the production’s official description, Sullivan has distilled the exploits of Falstaff — “the villainous and abominable misleader of youth” — and his ne’er-do-well protégé Prince Hal from “Henry IV Parts One and Two,” into one evening of Shakespeare’s finest comedy and most touching drama.
Hanks and Wilson have supported the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles for over 26 years, hosting and participating in Simply Shakespeare, a no holds barred impromptu reading of a Shakespeare comedy with celebrity casts and musicians that raises funds and awareness.
Others stars have performed in the Simply Shakespeare series have included Sir Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh, Will Smith, Steve Martin, Cedric the Entertainer, Dule Hill, Helen Hunt, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Martin Short, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Ewan MacGregor, Jack Browne, Tracy Ullman and Eric Idle.
Donenberg is the founder and executive artistic director of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA). As a director of award-winning populist interpretations of Shakespeare, Ben has received local awards and national recognition from two United States Presidents, Actors’ Equity Association, NAACP, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, California Educational Theatre Association and the Mayor of Los Angeles.