The Nutcracker

The New York City Ballet on Tuesday, December 5.

Time and endless repetition might have dulled the creepy edge from the story of The Nutcracker, but it’s still there. Underneath all the sugarplums and snowflakes is the weird tale of little Marie (or Clara, depending on the storyteller), whose godfather manipulates her into dreaming of his young nephew saving her from a mutant rodent and then whisking her away to a magical kingdom of sugar and antiquated stereotypes. It’s like a child’s feverish sexual fantasy: she gets the boy and lots of candy! Hot! The Nutcracker has its odd charms, to be sure, but how did it become America’s favorite ballet, the crossover hit?