That Old Chestnut

Lots of kids dream about a jolly, fat guy squeezing down the chimney with a sackload of iPods and Elmos. But at least one resident of the Stahlbaum house thinks about something else on Christmas Eve. Lithe young Clara imagines that her nutcracker toy turns into a handsome prince who does battle with a seven-headed mouse king. Upon the rodent’s defeat, Clara and her man dance through a winter wonderland of snowflakes, sweets and a sugarplum fairy. (What’s a sugarplum, anyway?). This strange tale, based on an old German yarn, is a seasonal classic right up there with that Scrooge story, though it’s best delivered en pointe by elegant ballerinas and ballerinos who leap and twirl to Tchaikovsky. The Kansas City Ballet wraps up its annual production of The Nutcracker with a 1 p.m. performance at the Music Hall (301 West 13th Street, 816-931-2232). Tickets start at $25. — Crystal K. Wiebe

Sat., Dec. 11, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 12, 1 & 5 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 18, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 19, 1 & 5 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 22, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 23, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 24, 1 p.m., 2010