William Shakespeare is returning to Neptune Theatre after a decade-long absence, while Homer Simpson will make his Halifax debut.

Artistic director George Pothitos unveiled Neptune’s 2010-11 season at Fountain Hall Thursday, calling it a “bold and passionate” mix of classics and contemporary theatre.

The season will feature a Shakespearian hat trick, with Romeo and Juliet starting the season and its modern offspring West Side Story closing the year.

In between is the Studio Theatre’s MacHomer, a one-man show from Rick Miller which interprets the Scottish play in more than 50 voices from The Simpsons.

“I think theatre is bold. This is what theatre can be,” Pothitos said after the launch. “It’s ambitious and it’s also hard work — and expensive.”

The Wizard of Oz will be the holiday play and the Studio series will feature Canadian playwright Don Hannah’s Maritime piece, Fathers and Sons.

It’s Pothitos’s second season as artistic director and he said he’s learned about Halifax audiences.

“They love variety,” he said.

The season will cater to that, starting 2011 with Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit followed by Martin McDonagh’s dark The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Pothitos compared the new season to rediscovering a long-term mate.

“You’re with somebody and then all of a sudden you realize how amazing they always were,” he said.

Two of Neptune’s most faithful partners were in their usual second-row orchestra seats. Gerald and Ethel Nelson have seen every Neptune play for the last 46 years. The theatre is approaching its 48th birthday.

“The first year, we missed a couple of the plays. We said, ‘This isn’t sensible,’” explained Ethel Nelson. “Then we subscribed.”

The Dartmouth couple was excited about the series, though they noted Blythe Spirit and West Side Story were Neptune repeats for them.

“It’s a very good line up,” she said. The elderly couple was especially eager to see Romeo and Juliet.

MacHomer, they were less certain about. “We don’t watch The Simpsons,” she said.

Season tickets are on sale now via www.Neptunetheatre.com or 429-7070.

Neptune Theatre’s 2010-11 season

Fountain Hall
• Romeo & Juliet (Sept. 14 to Oct. 17)
• 7 Stories (Oct. 26 to Nov. 14)
• Blythe Spirit (Jan. 18 to Feb. 13)
• The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Feb. 22 to March 20)
• West Side Story (April 5 to May 29)
• The Wizard of Oz (Nov. 27 to Jan 9)

Studio Theatre
• Fathers and Sons (Oct 12. to Oct. 24)
• MacHomer (Feb.1 to Feb. 13)
• The Fly Fisher’s Companion (May 3 to May 15)