Clay County Community Prepares for Upcoming Nutcracker Ballet 

Karleigh Kirilloff, a 6th grader at Grace Episcopal Day School plays the lead role as Clara in the Nutcracker, and Evan Gould, Choral and Drama Director at Lake Asbury Junior High,  plays Uncle Drosselmeyer.

The following article appeared in Clay Today on Dec. 8, 2011

By: Christina Leach Phillips, Correspondent

ORANGE PARK — It’s the season for holiday parades, festive parties, and Clay County’s 11th Annual Nutcracker Excerpts, which will be held Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at theSt. John’sCountryDay School,PerformingArtsCenterinOrangePark. 

The Nutcracker Ballet features dancers, ages 3 to 23, from the Clay Academy of Dance Arts, as well as members of the community who play roles in the holiday performance. 

On a recent Monday evening, young dancers practiced the “Waltz of the Flowers” under the watchful eye of Suzanne Tudor, the director of the Green Cove Springs dance school.  As the dancers performed, Tudor stopped the music several times to correct their foot and arm positions.  

When the evening wore on, adult cast members arrived at the studio on the banks of theSt. Johns Riverto practice for the first act, an elaborate Christmas party scene, complete with 19th Century costumes and dancing dolls. 

“This may be the best Nutcracker performance we have ever had,” said Tudor. “All the dancers have been so dedicated, and the ballet has come together so quickly and cohesively. This year is going to be spectacular!” 

In the ballet, a young girl named Clara receives a wooden Nutcracker from her mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, and in a dream-like sequence, she meets up with menacing mice, and the Christmas Spirit who guides her through theLandofSnowand theKingdomofSweets. 

Karleigh Kirilloff, a 6th grader at Grace Episcopal Day School, holds the lead role as Clara, and Evan Gould, Choral and Drama Director at Lake Asbury Junior High, plays Uncle Drosselmeyer. Clara’s brother, Fritz, is played by Paul Piner, and the children’s parents, the Stahlbaums, are played by Evan Wroblewski and Carly Heniese. 

Other leads include Natalie Phillips as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Katelyn Nance as the Snow Queen, Sydney Smith as the Christmas Spirit, Blair Tudor as the Arabian dancer, Bridget Vincent as the soldier doll, and Emily Poehlman as the Angel. 

Tickets may be purchased at theSt. John’sCountryDay School, Performing Arts Center box office one hour before the performance.  Tickets prices are $15 for adults and $10 for students with no admission charge for preschool age and under. Credit cards are not accepted. 

For more information, go online to: http://www.clayacademyofdancearts.com/nutcracker.htm