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Preview: The Little Mermaid at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Northern Ballet Brings Classic Fairy Tale To Life


The Little Mermaid

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 October 2022

Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Bill Cooper

Northern Ballet makes a highly-anticipated return to Newcastle bringing Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale - The Little Mermaid - to life.

We caught up Abigail Prudames, Premier Dancer at Northern Ballet who plays Marilla in The Little Mermaid.

Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Kyle Baines

Did you grow up knowing The Little Mermaid tale? Why do you think the story is still so popular today?

I did know the story of The Little Mermaid through the Disney version, we definitely had the video in my house.

People just love a fairytale! Adults remember them from their youth and want to share it with their children; or children find something appealing in the title and then their imaginations take them on a journey. In a fairytale there is always a ‘goodie’, a ‘baddie’, a hero or a heroine – there is just something for everyone.

Abigail Prudames in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Emily Nuttall 

How does Northern Ballet’s The Little Mermaid differ to the books and films we grew up with?

It’s not necessarily the happy ever after everyone is expecting but I won’t spoil it for future audiences. This being said there is very much a joyful celebratory atmosphere in some scenes. The audience get to understand that the transformation from the tail to the legs isn’t a smooth one as she is left in a lot of pain but luckily Prince Adair is her cure.

Aerys Merrill in The Little Mermaid.
Photo George Liang

What can you tell us about your character and her journey in the ballet?

You would think that she is quite a simple character but she isn’t! Marilla is the youngest of three mermaids. She has an immature side to her which is most apparent when she is with her friend, Dillion the Seahorse; they like to play games. She is quite na├»ve about the human world and doesn’t understand why she can’t go to the surface. She sets her sights on Prince Adair who she falls in love with. Everything on land is new to her so she is in complete wonderment all the time, excited to see other humans and fascinated by them. When her heart is broken by Prince Adair who is in love with another Princess, she experiences unbearable pain in her heart. She also feels excruciating pain in her legs because all this time, her love for Prince Adair has been her coping mechanism for masking the pain in her legs bestowed on her by the Sea Lord. The pain of losing Prince Adair is just too much for her. Her journey is quite a long emotional one through the story – she fully endures life in the water and on the land with the humans.

Dominique Larose and Rachael Gillespie
Photo Emily Nuttall

David Nixon CBE created the role of Marilla especially for you, how was that process?

To have a title role created on you is such a special and unique experience. Every day that I stepped into the studio to create more of the ballet with David Nixon was different. I didn’t set any expectations for the process as I had never experienced this before. I just took each day as it came. Having this role created on me added another level to my dancing. I feel personally involved with this character and I am able to express this through the story.

Joseph Taylor
Photo Emily Nuttall

This will be the third time you have performed this role, how has your relationship with Marilla developed over the years?

Marilla has always been special to me so will stay with me throughout. Returning to her character this time round has been interesting for me as I am passing on the choreography and character and story to new dancers which also is a great refresheras I can give back to where it all started. Explaining why we are the way we are or why we are doing this movement or what we are trying to say. So I get to pass on these details which is a great process to go through.

Northern Ballet dancers in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Emily Nuttall

What do you love most about playing Marilla?

Everyone knows Mermaids are magical! I get to play a magical creature that has a life under the sea and on the land. Best of both worlds.

What is your favourite costume you get to wear during the ballet?

Well the tail is probably the most obscure and fascinating. All the detail that is on the body and tail is amazing.

Northern Ballet dancers in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Kyle Baines

What can children look forward to in The Little Mermaid?

To start with you have three mermaids in beautiful costumes and Dillion the Seahorse who I think children will love. There are fish and jellyfish that make an appearance every now and then. There are sailors, women in beautiful costumes and a Sea Lord who will capture the attention of the older children. The colours of the costumes are something that stand out and look stunning under the stage lights. Also the music is fantastic! There are so many different parts to the music – the underwater world has a different sound to the human world and it really creates a beautiful divide.

Northern Ballet dancers in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Kyle Baines

Why do you think The Little Mermaid story works so well as a ballet?

It has something for everyone. So many characters within one ballet that appeals to different generations.

Since you last played this role in 2018, Northern Ballet has had some wonderful new dancers join the company. How have you found the process of rehearsing with the new generation of dancers?

It’s really great and rewarding for me to be able to pass on my knowledge of the character.

Sean Bates in The Little Mermaid.
Photo Emily Nuttall

What can audiences look forward to most about The Little Mermaid?

Northern Ballet bringing another great creation and well-known title to life. Everyone has worked as such a strong team for this ballet and it shows, so I hope the audience will see that too.


The Little Mermaid plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 October 2022. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


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