Brian Bedford has withdrawn from this season’s production of The Merchant of Venice at Canada's Stratford Festival, in which he was to play Shylock. Bedford is suffering from a medical condition, which, though treatable, requires immediate attention, said a Festival press release.
Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who is directing the production, said in the press release that Bedford made the decision with great reluctance. Earlier this season, Bedford directed the well-received production of Blithe Spirit.
“It meant so much to me to have Brian as part of my first season as artistic director,” Cimolino said in the release. “He is a friend and a mentor, as he has been to so many people at the Festival. I will be forever grateful to him for creating such an elegant production of Blithe Spirit, a show which is delighting audiences and will continue to do so all season long. We wish Brian a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the Festival in the years ahead.”
Scott Wentworth will assume the role of Shylock in addition to playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Capulet in Romeo and Juliet.
“When this situation arose, I thought of all the people—both internally and externally—who could play the part of Shylock and quickly realized the best person was in our company,” Cimolino said. “When I told Brian about the selection of Scott, he called the choice ‘inspired.’ This will be the third role this season in which Scott plays a father dealing with a strong-willed daughter. Scott has played such leading Shakespearean roles here as Macbeth, Iago, Mark Antony, and Claudius. He has been intensely interested in Shylock since playing Antonio in the Stratford's last production of The Merchant of Venice."
June 28, 2013