Paul Soles will take on the classic role of Shakespeare's Shylock in the Stratford Festival's summer staging of The Merchant of Venice, replacing Al Waxman, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.
Stratford artistic director Richard Monette, who is staging the drama, made the casting announcement Feb. 15.
Waxman died after complications following routine heart surgery Jan. 17. Rehearsals for the play at the famed Ontario fest begin in the coming weeks and the production officially opens the Stratford Festival season May 28.
Soles had a nine-month run with the world premiere of the musical, Ragtime, and other roles include Nat in I'm Not Rappaport, Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank (with Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson), the Doctor and other roles in Macbeth (on Broadway with Glenda Jackson and Christopher Plummer) and Mr. Green in Visiting Mr. Green for Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. Most recently, he played Eli/Jacob in Zadie's Shoes at the Factory Theatre in Toronto.
Soles may best be recognized by younger audiences for work he did early in his career: he provided the voices for Spider-Man in the original "Spider-Man" animated series and for the unforgettable Hermey the Elf (who wants to be a dentist) in the animated feature, "Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer." Soles is well-known across Canada for his work in theatre, film and television, began his career in TV news and current affairs, and is remembered as the host of CBC's long-running "Take Thirty" opposite co hosts Anna Cameron, Adrienne Clarkson, Mary Lou Finlay and Hana Gartner, and for shows such as "This Is The Law," "Wayne and Shuster" and "Beyond Reason."
— By Kenneth Jones