This version of the ballet, an adaptation of the famous George Balanchine staging presented annually in New York City, is the only well-known American production of "The Nutcracker" to use children in the roles of Marie (known as Clara in most versions) and the Nutcracker/Prince, so the roles are not choreographed to be as technically demanding as in other productions of the ballet. The original 1892 Russian production also used children. Several other productions, including the recent Helgi Tomasson one for the San Francisco Ballet, have taken their cue from Balanchine and cast a little girl in the role of Clara, but in the Tomasson version, Clara is magically transformed into an adult in Act II so that she can dance the pas de deux with the Prince (danced in the Tomasson production by an adult). Many other productions (especially Russian ones) now cast adults as the Nutcracker/Prince and the girl, usually known as Clara rather than Marie, so that there is an adult love interest between the couple.
Narration recorded by Kevin Kline was a last-minute addition that was heavily protested by Macaulay Culkin's father, Kit Culkin, who vowed that his son would do no publicity for the movie until the narration was dropped. Reluctantly, producer Arnon Milchan dropped the narration to appease the Culkins. Kit Culkin then returned with a list of other demands which so incensed Milchan that he reinstated Kline's narration, losing the use of the Culkins' publicity.