One of Shakespeare's most loved plays, Romeo and Juliet is the best known tale of star-crossed lovers and the power love can have over us all, even after death. Orpheus Theatre's production of the play hopes to bring the classic to a new generation of audience members by incorporating modern music and costumes, and setting it in a non-historical setting. Director Andy Burt had long wanted to direct the play and had settled on the idea of casting actors around the same age as the leads, that is, teenagers. 'I've always had a bit of a problem with 20-something and even 30- and 40-something actors playing youngsters on stage,' he says. 'Of course, it is a tall order to find young actor who have the maturity and the depths of understanding to play lead roles in Shakespeare ... [But] in my experience, young actors can bring to the stage ... a freshness and energy that are a real asset to a production.' Romeo and Juliet are played by 19-year-old Phil McManus and 15-year-old Camille Ahern respectively. Of McManus, Burt says: 'Phil impressed me at his audition by immediately making intelligent sense of the Shakespearean text. He was able to show me Romeo the lovelorn adolescent, before he meets Juliet, and the desperate victim of banishment but also the furious young man who fights and kills Tybalt.' Having worked with Camille on Stylus Productions' Arcadia last year, Burt says: 'I offered her the part of Juliet right from the beginning ... Apart from a highly expressive voice and face, she has the intelligence to create the huge arc that Juliet goes through, from young girl to brave rebel to strong wife.' Camille started taking drama seriously when she started studying at French International School aged 12. She took part in the Ista Festival that year, an experience which she describes as 'the best three days of my life. 'During the three days, I learned so much about theatre and music, it was all I wanted to do,' she adds. The role of Juliet is one Camille dreamed of playing after watching various movie versions of the play, but she didn't expect to be able to add it so early to her r?sum?, and realises the enormity of the challenge. 'Playing Juliet is very difficult, as she actually only meets Romeo five times in the whole play, so if I am not convincing in showing that I am completely in love with Romeo, the play is a waste of time,' she says. 'Juliet grows up so much in the play ... I have to make her as happy and as joyous as possible [at the start] so that the contrasting impact of the final tragedy is stronger.' To make the classic even more appealing to modern audiences, Burt chose to incorporate a contemporary soundtrack, including songs like Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars and Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love, 'to give the play an extra punch'. But even without these fresh twists, Burt maintains he has chosen a timeless play. 'Romeo and Juliet is hugely relevant to today's audiences, and will be, I think, to any age, since the main theme is, of course, love, and specifically young love. There are many aspects to this theme, and all are as relevant to people today as they were when it was written,' he says. 'Part of the genius of Shakespeare ... is that his plays deal with universal human themes and values that just do not go out of date.' Romeo and Juliet is showing January 13-17 at Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre. Tickets cost HK$200 (HK$250 for adults) from Urbtix on 2111 5999.