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Disney Spreads Christmas Joy

On Dec. 20, the Walt Disney Company invited youngsters to the cultural capital for an evening of magic.

Published: December 26, 2013 (Issue # 1792)



  • A pleasantly surprised visitor to Disneys event at the Musical Comedy Theater last week.
    Photo: Disney / For SPT

  • A performance of Aladdin was the main event for more than 700 disadvantaged youth flown in from across Russia.
    Photo: Disney / For SPT

For nearly a century, Disneys stories have kept generations of children rapt with attention thanks to unforgettable characters such as Beauty, Simba and Ariel. In Russia, theyve also given more than 700 very lucky children an early Christmas present theyll never forget.

On Dec. 20, for the seventh year in a row and for the third time in St. Petersburg, the Walt Disney Company, in collaboration with several local charities as well as the Russian government, invited youngsters to the cultural capital for an evening of magic at the Musical Comedy Theater on Ulitsa Italianskaya.

Aladdin, the rags-to-riches story of a young boy and his discovery of a magic lamp, was the highlight of an extraordinary evening. Colorful costumes, memorable characters and intricate choreography brought delight and joy to the faces of every girl and boy.

Aside from kids from the Leningrad Oblast, children affected by the summers devastating flooding in the Far East were flown in for the holiday extravaganza.

At the end of the evening, all attendees received a gift bag featuring toys, a coloring book, a puzzle, a mug, a lunch box and sweets.

The Walt Disney Corporation has now given over 6,000 children from all over Russia a chance to embrace the magic of the holiday season in the past seven years. This years guests came from the Republic of Sakha, Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krai, Magadan and Amur as well as from the Jewish autonomous oblast.

The event is one of two in Russia this year. On Dec. 14, 600 children were treated to a production of Moidodyr in Moscow, Chukovskys classic fairytale about a talking washbasin, at the Bolshoi Theater. This years show was the first in St. Petersburg since 600 people were treated to Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theater in 2011.

Giving back to communities is one of Disneys founding principles, according to the company website. Today, we continue that tradition as we seek to do our part in improving and enriching the lives of children and families, as well as contributing our time, resources and energies to communities around the world.

Their commitment to charity work, along with the recent opening of several merchandise stores in Russia, is part of the expanding influence of the American creative giant overseas. Since Hercules was dubbed into Russian 15 years ago, Disney has launched its own Russian television channel, online radio station, and computer and video games catering specifically to a Russian-speaking audience. Disney now has the highest sales of any movie studio in Russia and accounts for 26 percent of the film markets revenue.

Luckily, Disney movies appeal to universal values, and they are adored by cinema audiences around the world, said Marina Zhigalova-Ozkan, managing director of Disneys Russian and CIS operations, speaking to The St. Petersburg Times. Russia is no exception. For instance, boys in every country played pirates long before the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was shot.

Disneys most recent release in Russian, Frozen, features the voices of acclaimed jazz singer Anna Buturlina and pop star Dima Bilan. The movie raked in more than 377 million rubles ($11.4 million) in its first week. As of Dec. 22, the movie has earned nearly $200 million worldwide since its release, 44 percent of which has been earned abroad.

Such matters meant little to the assembled crowd of children at the Musical Comedy Theater on Dec. 20, however. One can imagine though that, for these kids, recent hardships became unimportant as they were transported to another world filled with magic and wonder, if only momentarily.

Keep dreaming, said Zhigalova-Ozkan before the curtain was raised on Aladdin last Friday. It is only by dreaming that your dreams can come true.

This report contains material from The Moscow Times.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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