What would Christmas be without The Nutcracker? E.T.A. Hoffmann's story about a young girl who journeys to a fairy-tale world of brave wooden soldiers is set against one of Tchaikovsky's best-loved scores; no wonder it's become a family favorite. The Missouri Ballet Theatre performs its Nutcracker with a mixed corps of child and adult dancers, all dressed in lavish costumes. There's just enough romance to enchant, and a scary (but not terrifying) battle against the army of the Rat King to capture the fancy of bold girls and daring boys alike.
7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 & 6 p.m. Sun. (Dec. 19-21). Edison Theatre on Washington University's campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543 or www.missouriballettheatre.org). $35.
Fri., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 20, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 21, 2 & 6 p.m., 2014