Denzel Washington is taking a stab at playing Shakespeare. He'll star as Brutus in a production of Julius Caesar that will open on Broadway at the Belasco Theater in April. The play, to be directed by Tony Winner Daniel Sullivan (Proof), marks Washington's first Shakespearean role since he played Don Pedro in Kenneth Branagh's 1993 film of Much Ado About Nothing, and his first Broadway gig since he starred in the short-lived 1988 comedy Checkmates. ''It was always my dream as a college actor to go to Broadway and make $600 a week,'' the two-time Oscar winner told the Times. ''Now it's probably $1,200, but it's still my dream.'' Of course, Washington will actually be earning $20 million this winter, according to Variety, thanks to a pay-or-play deal on the movie American Gangster. When Universal pulled the plug on the movie in pre-production last month, not only did Washington's fee kick in, but it also freed up his schedule to play Brutus.