The scene opens with the annual Christmas Eve Tree Lighting party at the home of the Silverhaus’. Clara and Fritz anxiously wait outside the parlor for the lighting of the tree, when to Clara’s horror and Fritz’s delight, the maid enters the hall, chasing a mouse from out of the pantry.
Father calls the children in, and the tree is lighted. As the guests arrive, we are introduced to the Elegant Family, the Widow, her daughter, the Dapper Gent and the Big Family with their nine children. After a festive dance performed by the children, the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer and his Nephew arrive. Drosselmeyer demonstrates wonderful mechanical dolls, and then presents his favorite niece Clara with a beautifully carved Nutcracker. As all of the children watch Drosselmeyer’s demonstration of the Nutcracker, Fritz becomes jealous and grabs the gift from Clara. In his flight, he drops and breaks it. Drosselmeyer bandages it and re-presents it to Clara. The party winds down, the guests depart and the Silverhaus family goes to bed.Unable to sleep, Clara sneaks downstairs to visit her Nutcracker. As she dances in the parlor with the Nutcracker, the shadows and the movement of little mice disturb her delight. Drosselmeyer reappears and casts her into a dream world -transforming the parlor into a battleground between an army of soldiers and rats.
Under the Christmas Tree Clara is amazed by the transformation of the parlor as the now life-size Nutcracker and his army of soldiers defend the Christmas tree from the minions of the Rat King and mice. As the fortune of the battle turns, Clara defends her beloved Nutcracker by throwing her shoe at the Rat King – vanquishing him and his awful troop. Drosselmeyer reappears and transforms the wounded Nutcracker into the Nutcracker Prince who will accompany Clara on an enchanted journey.The parlor is magically transformed into the Land of Snow, and Angels stream onto the scene. Clara and the Prince meet the beautiful Snow Queen and her King and are swirled and dazzled by whirlwinds of Snowflakes.
Clara and the Nutcracker Prince make their way to the Land of Sweets and are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Prince tells the story of the great battle for the Christmas tree and how Clara saved the day by thwarting the Rat King and securing victory. As a reward for her heroism, the Sugar Plum Fairy presents dances from all the different lands of the Sweets including, Chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia, Tea from China, Candy Canes from Russia, Marzipan from Germany and a wonderfully playful meeting of Mother Ginger and her many children. This is followed by a fragrant bouquet of Flowers and the tour de force pas de deux by the Sugar Plum and her cavalier. After the grand finale, a very happy but tired Clara is returned home to the comfort of the family parlor and wakes from her wonderful journey.