|Prologue and Act I
Our story begins at the Stahlbaum house with Clara, her brother Fritz and their parents finishing the preparations for their annual Christmas party. Friends and family are making their way to the party, as we see Clara's godfather, Drosselmeyer, putting the finishing touches on his magical gifts he has created especially for this party.
As Act I begins, Clara's parents and grandparents greet the guests, the butler takes their cloaks and the maid provides refreshments. Once all the guests have arrived, the children are called into the parlor to watch the lighting of the tree and to receive their gifts. Everyone is dancing when suddenly a mysterious guest rushes in! At first everybody is frightened by this stranger, but there is great relief when they discover it is uncle Drosselmeyer. All are amazed as Drosselmeyer entertains with life-size dolls that come to life and dance at his command. But the best doll of all is a beautiful nutcracker, which he presents to Clara. Delighted, Clara begins dancing with her new nutcracker. Fritz, though, becomes jealous and he snatches the doll from Clara and breaks it! Clara is heartbroken, but Drosselmeyer magically replaces the broken doll with a new nutcracker that is larger and even more beautiful! Then, all the girls dance with their dolls amidst irritating interruptions from the boys.
Clara's Mother and Father then invite the parents to dance one last time before collecting their sleepy children for the trip home. After all the guests have left, Clara and Fritz wander off to bed, while the maid and the butler tidy up the parlor. Unable to sleep, Clara returns to the darkened parlor looking for her nutcracker, and finding it, falls asleep under the tree with her Nutcracker in her arms.
Suddenly, she awakens as the great clock strikes midnight. The parlor begins to glow and mist fills the air. Huge, mischevious mice start running about, stealing Clara's nutcracker! Clara is devestated and falls to the floor crying hoping that she is just having a terrible dream.
Drosselmeyer returns to comfort Clara. Magically, the Christmas tree grows, the baby dolls left under the tree come to life, and the big toy soldiers come to Clara's defense. Suddenly the Nutcracker reappears, alive, and ready to lead the soldiers into battle against the mice. The mice are led by the Mouse King, who fights the Nutcracker. Just when it looks like the Mouse King will defeat the Nutcracker, Clara knocks the Mouse King down with her shoe, saving her Nutcracker's life!
Then with a great flash, the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince! Grateful for how Clara has saved him, he invites her to visit his kingdom in the "Land of Sweets." On the way, they pass through the Enchanted Forest where Snow Angels greet them. The Snow King and Queen dance for them and all the Snow Maidens and Snowflakes dance and swirl around them. The Snow Queen then presents Clara and the prince with a sleigh so they can complete their journey to the wonderful "Land of Sweets."
This act begins in the Land of Sweets with the Sugar Plum Fairy preparing to hearald the arrival of Clara and the Prince. While Clara explores her wondrous new surroundings, the Prince tells the story of how Clara saved him. Clara is then crowned honorary Princess of the Land of Sweets, and a feast prepared in her honor begins.
Dances from different countries representing various sweets are performed for Clara's entertainment. She sees a Spanish dance (chocolate), a Chinese dance (tea) and a Russian dance (tea cakes). The Waltz of the Flowers is next and is danced by the Flowers of the kingdom (frosted flowers for Christmas cakes). Then Mama Gingerbread, sitting atop her big gingerbread house, enters with Bon Bons, Gingerbread Acrobats and Gum Drops dancing, tumbling and rolling about. The Arabian dance is next (coffee), and then the Dance of the Mirlitons (marzipan). The Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince dance for Clara throughout this celebration, and then entertain Clara with a special dance - the Grand Pas de Deuz (great dance for two).
Afterward, all the the sweets join together for one last waltz as they prepare to bid farewell to Clara.
When Clara awakens, still clutching her Nutcracker, she wonders if she was only dreaming after all...
Music by: Peter Llyich Tchaikovsky
Based on the story by: E.T. Hoffman
Original Choreography by: Marius Petipa
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