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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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