Bedford, who was scheduled to play the role of Shylock, is suffering from a medical condition, which, though treatable, requires immediate attention.
Artistic director Antoni Cimolino, who is directing the production, said in a statement, “We wish Brian a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the Festival in the years ahead.”
Bedford will be replaced by Scott Wentworth, whose summer roles also include 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,” added Cimolino. “When I told Brian about the selection of Scott, he called the choice ‘inspired.’
The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until Oct. 20, featuring Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof, The Three Musketeers, The Merchant of Venice, Tommy, Blithe Spirit, Othello, Measure for Measure, Mary Stuart, Waiting for Godot, Taking Shakespeare, and The Thrill, along with more than 150 events at The Forum.
For more information visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.