Musical Drama By E. Thomalen
7m, 8f - 4 female lead roles and 3 male leads, 1 child
The play has 12 scenes divided evenly with an intermission in the middle and runs about 75 – 80 minutes. It does require performers who can sing and dance as well as act. The story takes place in Hamburg Germany on December 24, 1812 as Napoleon’s Grand Army of the Republic is retreating from Moscow. The Empire and its allied states are receiving home their war wounded and Clara pays a visit to the camp infirmary bringing presents to soldiers. There she contracts a fever that makes its appearance at the end of the party her parents give on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, Dr. Drosselmeyer was at the party and stays afterward to have a brandy with his hosts. He attends Clara with her Mother when the fever becomes apparent.
Dr. Drosselmeyer who always brings the children presents, had earlier given Fritz a drum and Clara a Nutcracker. But Fritz tries to take the Nutcracker from Clara to join his imaginary army, Clara resists, and in the scuffle the Nutcracker’s arm breaks. Fortunately, Dr. Drosselmeyer is able to repair it. Clara takes it to her room with her when she goes to bed, but she soon has a series of fever dreams.
In the first dream the Mouse King appears and tries to take Clara off to his kingdom to marry his son but the Nutcracker appears as the Prince and fights with the Mouse King and calls up toy soldiers to battle the Mouse King’s minions. When the Prince is wounded in battle, Clara hits the Mouse King with her slipper and kills him. Clara thanks the Prince for helping to defend her. In the second dream, as Clara’s fever spikes and she is shivering, the Snow Queen appears. She offers rich garments to Clara and peace if she will join her in her land and the Snow Queen describes all the pleasures of winter. The Prince points out to Clara that if she goes with the Snow Queen she will go to a land where spring never comes and there can be no new life. In the end when the Snow Queen tries to force Clara to join her there, the Prince threatens the Snow Queen with a poker from the fireplace and she leaves but not before blowing sparks onto the wooden Nutcracker Prince. In the third dream the Sugar Plum Fairy appears. She offers Clara whatever she wants and reminds her of how as child she often gave them to Clara in her imagination. She encourages Clara to join her permanently in a world of "happy illusions" but the Prince again appears and warns her that if she goes there, she will not fulfill her own life.
When Clara decides that the Prince is right, the Sugar Plum Fairy angrily turns all of her gingerbread men back into inanimate pastries and turns the Prince back into a wooden Nutcracker. Clara awakens hearing the bells on Christmas morning, and in the final song sings: "Once I heard the soft cradlesong/Did listen to it all day long/But I would not that time prolong/But sing now boldly my own song." She has gone from childhood to a more grown up sensibility about herself and the world. The story is related by Dr. Drosselmeyer in a letter to a friend and colleague, he has been amazed at how the Nutcracker present seemed to bring about such a miraculous cure in his young patient.
Running time: 75 minutes with 1 intermission