You don’t have Santa Claus shave his beard and sport a handlebar mustache. You don’t paint Rudolph’s nose green. And you don’t mess with the Nutcracker, says Joedy Cook, director of Ballet Quad Cities.

“It’s a holiday tradition, people are used to coming out every year and seeing it, and it’s wonderful just the way it is, if it isn’t broken, why break it?” Cook said with a chuckle. “I know that sometimes people are always looking for something new and different, and we do that with some of our shows, but with Nutcracker we like to keep it classic.”

What that means is a reprise of the same traditional performance that has been delighting area fans for the past two decades, featuring sumptuous costuming and sets and gorgeously delicate choreography accompanied by the legendary aural earworms sported by the show, including the ubiquitous “Sugar Plums.”

“Even if you don’t think you know anything about the Nutcracker, even if you’ve never seen it, I guarantee you’ve heard the music, because it’s everywhere, in pretty much every TV show and commercial,” Cook said with a smile. “People who have never seen the ballet come out to the show and you can see their faces light up with recognition when they hear the music, like, ‘Oh, so that’s where that song is from…’

“You don’t have to be an expert in ballet to enjoy this,” Cook said. “These are beautiful, talented athletes, it’s a story most people know and if they don’t know it’s easy to follow, it’s music that is perhaps the most recognizable in the world, and it’s got a wonderful holiday spirit. I think some people are a little intimidated sometimes if they’ve never been to a ballet or they wonder if it’s something they’re going to enjoy. Believe me, even if you have never been to a ballet before in your life, even if you don’t know anything about ballet or dance, you’ll enjoy the Nutcracker.”

For all of its traditional charm, there are a few new elements in the mix, Cook said, as the costuming is a little different than years past and there are some new choreography variations, freshening it up for its 25th year. So, the over 5,000 people who showed up for last year’s three performances will get a few surprises. But, generally, as she said, it’s your classic Nutcracker.

“It’s what people expect to see and we give them all the things they want to see,” Cook said. “It’s a Christmas tradition, and Christmas is all about traditions. We want people to be happy, and I’m sure they’ll be happy with this show.”

Ballet Quad Cities’ ‘The Nutcracker’

1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10

Adler Theater, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport

Tickets are $15-$33

(309) 786-3779