December 05, 1988 12:00 PM

Once upon a time in 19th-century Nuremberg there was a little old clockmaker whose handsome nephew was transformed into an ugly nutcracker doll by a mean old Mouse Queen. To break the spell, the wooden doll is forced to slay the Mouse King and—in spite of his splinters—steal the heart of some beautiful maiden. So begins this 120-minute ballet in two acts inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and set to Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s familiar, flamboyantly romantic score. Peter Wright, the artistic director of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, has imaginatively adapted this Christmas chestnut in conjunction with London’s Royal Ballet company. Principal dancers Lesley Collier and Anthony Dowell play the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince, reigning over the Kingdom of Sweets. The costumes are glorious, the staging sublime, and this dazzling pageant casts a spell of its own. (Home Vision, $39.95; 800-262-8600)

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