Northern Ballet at Sheffield Lyceum: New show Merlin brings the magic - and a dragon

Northern Ballet are back at Sheffield Lyceum with their new show Merlin – and it’s a pretty magical night out.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 9:42 am
The entry of King Vortigern in the new Northern Ballet musical Merlin. which is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
The entry of King Vortigern in the new Northern Ballet musical Merlin. which is at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Sought-after choreographer and director Drew McOnie, who has worked on Broadway and in the West End, starts the Camelot story before King Arthur is born, and looks at the prequel to his Knights of the Round Table story.

The show, which is aimed at families, features lots of spectacle and sparkle and quite a bit of real-life sleight of hand magic, which all works really well.

In the story, a female blacksmith (Alessandra Bramante) finds a crib with an abandoned baby in it. He is Merlin (Riku Ito) and as he grows up with her, she wants him to hide his magic powers as she fears they will land him in trouble.

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She does, however, present him with a huge sword – Excalibur – when he is conscripted into King Vortigern’s army.

While training, he falls for fierce leading warrior Morgan (Minju Kang) but she only has eyes for handsome prince Uther (Joseph Taylor).

However, he is in love with princess Ygraine (Abigail Prudames) from a rival kingdom.

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New Northern Ballet show Merlin, which is at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday, November 6

When Merlin’s magic accidentally activates Excalibur with tragic consequences in battle, Morgan is determined to grab his powers, so she can use them to ensnare Uther.

From then on it’s a fight between good and evil, with a fantastic puppet dragon, an amazing glowing tree and other clever effects thrown in for good measure.

There’s also a sub-plot involving Merlin’s discovery that his parents are actually gods of the sun and water.

That would be a lot of plot for a spoken show but it’s hard to follow with only visual clues, even thought it’s all amazingly well danced and acted.

However, don’t let that put you off because the combination of beautiful dancing and music, fantastic design and that dragon sweep you along nicely.

Merlin isn’t yet in the same class as amazing Northern Ballet shows such as Casanova or Geisha but it’s still very enjoyable and the whole cast worked really hard to sprinkle their own magic on the production.

Merlin is at the Lyceum until Saturday, November 6. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or