Photos supplied by Northern Ballet


This autumn, Northern Ballet’s Merlin – an epic adventure of heartache, hope and spellbinding magic – will take to the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal.

The production will open in Norwich from 19 – 23 October and will be one of the first new works created during the pandemic to visit theatres across the country. Created by the British choreographer Drew McOnie, Merlin sees the young and inexperienced
sorcerer master his magic to unite a warring kingdom. The ballet explores Merlin’s teenage impulses and his quest for acceptance, set against a backdrop of conflict and divide.

Drawing on well-known characters from Arthurian legend including Morgan le Fae and the Lady of the Lake, the original story will be brought to life with illusions and magic by Chris Fisher, International Illusions & Magic Associate for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child. Chris will work closely with Northern Ballet’s dancers, applying the discipline of ballet to mastering magic complemented by Colin Richmond’s ingenious set and costume designs.

Merlin will be the first full-length ballet created by Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie, whose recent work includes the acclaimed Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, King Kong on Broadway and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom in the West End. Its story is a personal one, inspired by McOnie’s experiences of feeling different growing up and, more recently, examining what it could mean to be a parent in a non-nuclear family. It’s a story about how one’s otherness may in fact turn out to be their magic.

Drew McOnie said: “I am so thrilled to be heading back into the studio to create Merlin for Northern Ballet. New work is so vital, and I am so pleased that Merlin will be part of that wave of original productions, welcoming audiences back to the theatre; an adventure that I know has been sorely missed.”

Northern Ballet is one of the UK’s leading ballet companies and the widest touring ballet company in the UK. Bold and innovative in its approach, Northern Ballet is prolific at creating new full-length work with a unique blend of strong classical technique and impressive storytelling. Northern Ballet’s repertoire embraces popular culture and takes inspiration from literature, legend, opera and the classics, pushing the boundaries of what stories can be told through dance.

A champion for the cultural exports of the North, Leeds-based Northern Ballet is dedicated to bringing ballet to as many people and places as possible, under the leadership of Artistic Director David Nixon OBE. Northern Ballet’s Company of dancers performs a combination of its full-length ballets and specially created ballets for children at more than 40 venues annually.

Tickets for Merlin at Norwich Theatre Royal are available now or by calling the Box Office on 01603 630 000.

Northern Ballet Merlin Production Credits:
Choreography & Direction: Drew McOnie
Music: Grant Olding
Set & Costume Design: Colin Richmond
Lighting Design: Anna Watson
Illusions: Chris Fisher
Puppetry Design & Direction: Rachael Canning

Tour Dates nationwide:
Tickets for Merlin are on sale now. See for details. Merlin will be touring to:
Nottingham Theatre Royal – 25 September – 2 October
Hull New Theatre – 12 – 16 October
Norwich Theatre Royal – 19 – 23 October
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre – 2 – 6 November
Leeds Grand Theatre – 9 – 20 November
Southampton Mayflower Theatre – 2 – 4 December