If you can’t tell from the title of this post, I’m incredibly excited about the new casting announcements out of the Stratford. The 2011 season is shaping up to be pretty darn great. Here’s the latest from awesometown:

Josh Young as Judas!!!!! My favourite musical performer of the year is returning to the amazing and complex role of Jesus’ traitor in Jesus Christ Superstar. Bruce Dow’s also announced as Herod, which will be fine, possibly even funny, I’m sure. Mike Nadajewski‘s in it too, I’m really very fond of him so yay!

Underrated gem Laura Condlln returns to Shakespeare as Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor and the awesome Tom McCamus will play her husband. All sorts of happy happening in that (truly all-star) cast.

MIKE SHARA!! I’d watch him in anything but his particular brand of earnestly egocentric comedy will hit the perfect note as Orsino next season in Twelfth Night. Sara Topham is predictably cast as Olivia to complete the principal casting.

Titus casting is finally up! The wonderful John Vickery is in the title role with Peter Donaldson, a reliable festival vet, taking on Marcus. In the most predictable but still awesome casting ever, my beloved Dion Johnstone will be the badass Aaron (best part in the play, hands down!) and the beautiful Amanda Lisman has the incredible challenge of the traumatic ingenue Lavinia. Claire Lautier will be Tamora, an incredibly demanding role, though I’m not counting her out just yet.

The Richard III casting has me mildly worried though. Peter Donaldson will surely be a solid Buckingham but I’m not fond of Yanna McIntosh, set to play the all-important Elizabeth. A cast of lesser-known company members fills out the rest of the roles (including Lady Anne to Bethany Jillard, who did a good job with a single small role this season).

On cast-strength alone, Merry Wives of Windsor is shaping up to be quite a smash. Though Twelfth Night has its fair share of heavy hitters (and wonderful young actors- here’s looking at you Andrea Runge!) I’m still holding out great hope for Richard III and Hosanna based on my love of their leads (Seanna McKenna and Gareth Potter respectively) and with the addition of Young am now quite excited about Jesus Christ Superstar. Titus also promises to be exhilarating no matter what, and I do adore Dion.

With the exceptions of Trish Lindstrom and Bruce Godfree, every one of my festival favourites is returning next year- I cannot wait!