"The Nutcracker" is the story of Clara, a little girl who is given a wooden nutcracker as a Christmas gift by the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer. That night, she experiences the nutcracker's battle with an army of mice and his transformation into a handsome prince.
In the first act of the ballet, Clara's parents, the Stahlbaums, throw a Christmas party. Dr. Drosselmeyer, who entertains the children with magic tricks, gives Clara the nutcracker. That night, Clara wakes up at midnight to see her room filled with giant mice who attack her. The nutcracker leads an army of toy soldiers to defeat them. He battles the Mouse King successfully and turns into a prince. He and Clara board an enchanted sleigh to journey to the Kingdom of Sweets.
In the second act, the couple travels across the Lemonade Sea, and they are greeted at their destination by the Sugarplum Fairy. They are entertained by several performances from inhabitants of the kingdom. At the close of the celebration, Clara falls asleep. She awakens in bed and is saluted by the Nutcracker Prince.
"The Nutcracker" was based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffman called "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." While the original story was centered around a girl named Marie and was considered dark and scary, French writer Alexandre Dumas adapted it to be much lighter. In 1892, this version was turned into the ballet.