World premiere of Northern Ballet’s Merlin comes to Theatre Royal Nottingham this autumn

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

The production will open in Nottingham from 25 September – 2 October, as part of a new UK-wide tour. It will be one of the first productions 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. It is a very special and important piece to me, and I am so grateful that despite the initial setbacks, we are now back in full development, flying towards what I hope will be a magical opening in September. 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.”

Following its opening run in Nottingham, Merlin will tour to Hull New Theatre (12 – 16 October); Norwich Theatre Royal (19 – 23 October); Sheffield Lyceum Theatre (2 – 6 November); Leeds Grand Theatre (9 – 20 November) and Southampton Mayflower Theatre (2 – 4 December).

Tickets for Merlin at the Theatre Royal Nottingham are available now at or by calling the Box Office on 0115 989 5555.



Theatre Royal Nottingham

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021

Sat 7.30pm, Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Thu matinee 2pm, Sat matinee 2.30pm

£11 – £49.50 plus discounts for Royal Members*, Under 16s, 16-25 year olds, Groups, Schools, and Families 0115 989 5555

*Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham Royal Membership scheme offers benefits including ticket discounts and exclusive pre-sales.  For more information please visit


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