Christopher Plummer as Caesar and Nikki M. James as Cleopatra in the 2008 filmed version of Caesar and Cleopatra. ((David Hou/Stratford Shakespeare Festival))

Christopher Plummer will return to Stratford to play Prospero in The Tempest in 2010, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival revealed Wednesday in a look at its coming season.

The 2010 season also will also mark the directorial return of Marti Maraden, a former co-artistic director of the festival, and Gary Griffin, who helmed this year's hit musical West Side Story

In playing Prospero at Stratford, Plummer has to follow in the large footsteps of William Hutt who was renowned for playing the role. Hutt, who died of leukemia in 2007, last played the sorcerer in 2005.

Plummer himself is an established actor at Stratford and this week he received a Gemini nomination for the film of his performance as Julius Caesar in the 2008 festival production of Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. He's also known outside Stratford as an Emmy, Genie, Tony and Governor General's Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Maraden was acclaimed for her 2008 work directing All's Well That Ends Well and The Trojan Women. Next year she'll direct The Winter's Tale at the Tom Patterson Theatre. 

The Winter's Tale "is an excellent vehicle for a number of our leading company members, who will thrive under her (Maraden's) direction," said the festival's current artistic director Des McAnuff in a release issued Wednesday.

General director Antoni Cimolino hailed Maraden as one of Canada's most skilled directors of Shakespeare. 

Gary Griffin, an American Broadway director, returns after this year's popular hit West Side Story, to direct Evita at the Avon Theatre, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

"This is the first electric musical that we've done here," McAnuff said. "It is a very emotional story and one of the great scores of modern times, bonding classical melody with rock and roll and Latin rhythms."

The festival is hoping to increase the number of students and families attending with a production of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie in the 2010 season. Tim Carroll, one of the driving forces behind the rebirth of the Globe Theatre in Britain, will direct the play.

Some other highlights of the season include:

  • Brent Carver as Jaques in As You Like It, directed by McAnuff.
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Dean Gabourie.
  • Kiss Me, Kate, the Shakespeare-inspired musical with music by Cole Porter, directed by Britain's John Doyle.
  • Christopher Hampton's Dangerous Liaisons, directed by Ethan McSweeny.
  • Geraint Wyn Davies in Do Not Go Gentle, by Leon Pownall.
  • Michel Tremblay's For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, directed by Chris Abraham
  • Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris will also feature Carver.

Canadian playwright George F. Walker's play King of Thieves will have its world premiere, with Canadian Jennifer Tarver returning to direct. The play is an adaptation on John Gay's Beggar's Opera, a tale of financial collapse. Walker moved the setting from London to 1920s New York.