Augusta Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ is all in the family

(Featured photo: Renwick McKinney and Clara Fennell rehearse the Arabian pas de deux for the Augusta Ballet Nutcracker. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

Family gatherings are an important part of the holidays for many, and for a few area families, those get-togethers include being on stage for the Augusta Ballet’ performance of The Nutcracker.

Six members of the McKinney family including Renwick, 18, and Seamus, 16, will be featured in the show.

Renwick McKinney started dancing because his older sisters were part of the company.

Marilla Vernon and Seamus McKinney rehearse for “The Nutcracker.: Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“I wasn’t always open that I did ballet,” said Renwick, a recent Harlem High School graduate, who is part of the Arabian pas de deux.        

However, as he continued with dance, he found he enjoyed it, and it provided him with other benefits such as improving his balance for mixed martial arts.  He’s also built friendships with others in the company and is looking forward to dancing as Arabian this Christmas.

His brother, Seamus, started his dance career by default. He tagged along at the dance studio because his siblings were there and got “thrown in to the mix,” said Seamus who is the Nutcracker Prince.

Although he’s not related to Marilla Vernon who is dancing in the role of Clara, the two have known each other practically all their lives.

Seamus’s godparents are Marilla’s parents, and Marilla’s mom was pregnant with Marilla when started her godmother role on the day Seamus was baptized.

Click on advertisement for more information.

This is the first performance they’ve been partners.

 “He’s a good partner,” said Marilla, who believes their friendship has helped as they’ve rehearsed together for their roles.

 Marilla’s parents have performed in the party scene in previous years but are taking this performance off for a couple of reasons.

 “They wanted to watch me dance,” said Marilla, and her family just welcomed a new baby a couple of weeks ago.

Click on advertisement for more information.

Another cast member with a long Nutcracker heritage is Gabe Hughes, who is the Cavalier and is working with dancers during rehearsals. His grandfather is Ron Jones, who started the Ron Jones School of Ballet in 1985 and is the director of Augusta Ballet. Jones danced the role of Cavalier for many years as did Hughes’ uncle, Stephen, who has made his career in the entertainment industry performing as a dancer and acting in films such as Step Up All In.

Stephen Jones partnered with Sarah Vernon when she was the Sugar Plum Fairy in the early 2000s at Augusta Ballet. Sarah Vernon is Marilla’s. aunt.

Hughes is also a guest performer for the Fayetteville Ballet’s Nutcracker.

The Augusta Ballet’s Nutcracker will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Columbia County Performing Arts Center. For tickets go here.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

Support local journalism: Local stories on local people, organizations and events. That’s the focus of Augusta Good News, a member of the Georgia Press Association. And you don’t have to go through a paywall to find these stories. An independent voice in Augusta, Ga., Augusta Good News is not funded by a billionaire or a large corporation; it doesn’t have celebrity reporters who have agents. It’s local people who are invested in the community and want to tell its stories. You can support local journalism and help us expand our coverage by becoming a supporter. Through Ko-Fi, you can give once or set up a monthly gift. Click here to learn more. Thank you!

One thought on “Augusta Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ is all in the family

  1. Thank you Charmain for this wonderful coverage of our performers! They will treasure this article.

Comments are closed.