Stratford has star power in ‘Nutcracker’ holiday tradition

McKay Powers Nutcraker

Stratford freshman McKay Powers was cast in the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker,” an annual Macon Christmas tradition at the Grand Opera House.

By KENZIE MUENZER, Gazebo Staff Writer

McKay Powers has been recognized as a rising star, just like the star on the logo of the school she attends.

The Stratford Academy freshman has been cast in the stellar role as Clara in annual Middle Georgia holiday production of The Nutcracker.

Powers has been dancing since she was 3 years old and has been performing for Nutcracker of Middle Georgia since she was 9. She has previously been cast in the Cavalry, Toy Soldier, Little Girl and the Columbine Doll.

With five years of experience under her toes, it should have come as no shock she landed a lead role. Still, Powers said she was “stunned” when she saw her name next to Clara on the cast list.

“I was really excited,” she said. “… It just really boosted my confidence.”

She auditioned on a Sunday afternoon, and found out her role after school on Monday night.

“You just come home from school and you’ve been thinking about it all day and then you have to go to dance,” she said. “Then you come home and then you just sit there and wait. It’s just all of a sudden there. You see your name and … it’s just really awesome.”

Two dozen Stratford students will dance in the prestigious Macon holiday tradition, which starts with a Wednesday performance for Bibb County elementary students, then runs Thursday through Sunday.

Stratford seniors Wehbe Lee and Tift Palmer also have major roles. Lee is the Lead Marzipan and Snow. Palmer is Marzipan and Spanish. Both have participated in the show for more than 10 years.

“I love The Nutcracker,” said Palmer. “It’s one of my favorite traditions, and I’m sad that it is my last year. It has been a part of my life for so long now, and it’s going to be super different next year sitting in the audience versus dancing on stage.”

Lee shared the same feelings about her final year.

“I’m so excited but very sad to see it go,” said Lee. “It’s been such a huge part of my life for so long that it’s gotten to the point where I don’t think of Christmas without The Nutcracker. Everyone there and all the traditions have become so special to me. I want to do my best to make it the best year yet and go out with a bang!”

Other Stratford students are Carter Atkinson (freshman), Samantha Atkinson (freshman), Annie Baxley (fourth grade), Carly Blackwood (sixth grade), Olivia Coleman (sixth grade), Miller Cranford (seventh grade), Katie Belle Duke (sophomore),  Langley Anne Faulkner (fifth grade), Scotty Kelly (sixth grade), Murray McCormack (sophomore), Isabel McSwain (freshman), Anna Kate Medlin (sophomore),  Katie Beth Powers (sixth grade), Joscelynn Puckett (third grade), Alice Rauls (third grade), Ginna Ross (fourth grade), Molly Edward Seagraves (third grade), Harley Anne Shurling (sixth grade), Jacob Stainbrook (fourth grade), Jailyn Brooke Stephens (fourth grade), Jansyn Bailee Stephens (seventh grade) and Evie Tharpe (seventh grade)

Clara is a difficult role to play. All eyes are on you when on stage, especially when the show is to be held at the Grand Opera House.

Powers will have thousands of people in the audience see her over the five days and six performances. Although it is quite nerve-wracking, she believes she has become more comfortable in her part as rehearsals go on. 

Now, she awaits her big moment.