A press conference was held today at the Globe Theatre to officially launch its 2009 season. Highlights include Frank McGuinness\' adaptation of Euripides\' Helen, starring Penny Downie, and a Dominic Dromgoole-helmed production of {Romeo and Juliet::L1000589374} starring 18-year old Ellie Kendrick (pictured), who recently played the title role in the BBC dramatisation of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Titled Young Hearts (See News, 19 Nov 2008), the Globe\'s 2009 season was introduced today by artistic director Dromgoole as “a way of celebrating the youth and excitement of this young theatre, which is only 12 years old … the Shakespeare plays chosen all showcase different takes on the drama and excitement of young love”.

Kicking off the season, from 30 April to 23 August (previews from 23 April) is {Romeo and Juliet::L1000589374}, starring newcomer Ellie Kendrick. Kendrick, who is currently on her gap-year before University, was at today\'s conference and spoke of her excitement at landing the part: “I\'ve been coming to the Globe since I was 12 and think it has such a unique atmosphere … I never dreamed I\'d be making my stage debut here in one of the biggest roles and one of the most famous plays in the world!”

The cast also includes another newcomer, Adetomiwa Edun, as Romeo, Ukweli Roach (Tybalt), Jack Fathing (Benvolio) and acclaimed New Zealand actor Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider) as Friar Laurence. The production is directed by Dominic Dromgoole, designed by Simon Daw, with music by Nigel Hess.

From 8 to 23 May (previews from 5 May) Che Walker\'s modern-day drama {The Frontline::L2117418150} makes a return after a successful debut last season, helmed by Matthew Dunster. The cast comprises a mix of new and returning members, including Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Huss Garbiya, Trystan Gravelle, Robert Gwylim, Paul Lloyd, Golda Rosheuvel and John Stahl.

It\'s followed by Thea Sharrock\'s production of {As You Like It::L1360454509} (8 June to 10 October, previews from 30 May), with a cast that includes Naomi Frederick (Rosalind) and Laura Rogers (Celia). Sharrock, who became the youngest artistic director in British theatre when she took on the role at the Southwark Playhouse in 2001, makes her Globe directing debut.

Season firsts

From 12 July to 20 September Matthew Dunster directs {Troilus and Cressida::L1507872671} with Trystan Gravelle playing Achilles. The production marks the first time the Globe has staged the play, something Dromgoole, who has directed several \'firsts\' including Othello, described as “immensely exciting”. Further casting is still to be announced.

Another first for the Globe this season is its foray into Greek tragedy, with the world premiere of Frank McGuinness\' take on Euripides\' lesser-known and rarely performed Helen. Penny Downie will lead the cast in a production helmed by Deborah Bruce.

Also making its world premiere is A New World: A Life of Thomas Paine (3 September to 9 October,previews from 29 August) by Trevor Griffiths. Initially commissioned as a screenplay by Richard Attenborough (who is an associate on the production), it was first heard as a radio drama last year, starring Jonathan Pryce in the title role (who Griffiths, present at today\'s conference, hinted as a strong candidate to play the role on stage).

The play charts the life and loves of British émigré Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man and a key participant in both the American and French revolutions. Griffiths, the Oscar-nominated writer of Ten Days that Shook the World and plays including The Party and Comedians, admitted that the play “is currently over four hours long”, but promised it would be “whittled down” by the time it opens.

The season closes with Love\'s Labours Lost, a revival of Dromgoole\'s 2007 hit production. Following a short run at the Globe from 30 September to 10 October (previews from 25 September), the production, which is designed by Jonathan Fensom with a score by Claire van Kampen, will embark on a North American autumn tour.

In addition to its main stage programme, the Globe will continue its commitment to visiting what Dromgoole today termed “charismatic non-theatrical spaces”. During the summer, two small-scale productions - The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night\'s Dream - will visit outdoor venues across the UK and Europe.

- by Theo Bosanquet