Unlocking Disney Magic for Hundreds of NYC Public School Students | Playbill

Sponsored Content Unlocking Disney Magic for Hundreds of NYC Public School Students

“It’s about showing these students what’s possible”: Disney Theatrical Group and Situation Project team up to bring hundreds of students to Broadway.

A student from MS 343 reads her Aladdin Playbill before the performance Courtesy of Situation Project

Playbill has partnered with Inspired to create and amplify stories of inspiration that advocate for access to arts and cultural experiences for young people across the country. The following article is written by the team at Situation Project and adapted from their online publication Inspired. Click here to learn more.

Everyone remembers their first Broadway show. For some, it may become a favorite musical. For others, they may be seeing a favorite star for the first time on stage. For others still, it may earn them bragging rights from seeing a not-yet-star in their Broadway debut. But for everyone, it’s a memory being made.

Inspired by the magic of Disney and the transformative power of live theatre, Situation Project partnered with 6 schools to invite 375 NYC public school students to a special matinee performance of Aladdin on Broadway to make a few new memories. For many, it was a first-time experience seeing a Broadway show, offering new insight into the city they call home and a new dimension to a story so many of them grew up with.

Marcos, a student from MS 343 expressed what it was like to see one of his favorite movies brought to life: “I always liked Aladdin when I was a kid—my mom would put it on the TV and I loved it. I feel so happy to be here.” 

Dylan, another student from MS 343, said, “[Seeing Aladdin] live feels even better than in the films because you get to see them in person and experience how they're feeling right in front of you.”

Students from MS 343 pose for the camera before the show begins Courtesy of Situation Project

Damian Bazadona, founder of Situation Project, reflected on the day's significance, saying, "There’s something profoundly magical about seeing a story unfold live in front of you. It’s not just about entertainment; it’s about showing these students what’s possible beyond their neighborhoods and screens."

Access to unique cultural experiences makes an impact far beyond the end of the school day. One study says that engaging in the arts not only enriches students' educational journey by enhancing their cognitive, critical thinking, and technical skills but also plays a vital role in fostering a deeper understanding of diversity, tolerance, and empathy.

When asked about why he cares about the arts, Marcos said, “Music helps me with my mindset and how I think.”

Echoing this, Lisa Mitchell, Director of Education & Audience Engagement at Disney Theatrical Group, said, "Live theatre is a shared experience, so suddenly the story becomes theirs. Seeing the magic unfold right before their eyes unlocks possibilities for young people. Whether they are inspired to pursue a career in the arts, become life-long theatregoers, or simply see the world in a new way, the experience is transformative.”

Lauren Daghini, Director of Marketing at Disney Theatrical Group, emphasized the immersive power of live theatre. "Bringing Disney magic to life on stage offers a unique experience that complements the films. It allows students to engage with beloved characters in a new way, enriching their understanding and enjoyment of the story," Daghini shared.

As the actors made their final curtain call, the student audience cheered and screamed for each of their favorite performers, an applause so loud it can’t quite be captured with words.

Sonya Balsara celebrates National Women’s Day with dozens of women from the Aladdin creative team Courtesy of Situation Project

After the curtain call, Sonya Balsara, the actor who plays Jasmine in the show, stepped forward to address the young crowd. In an inspiring tribute to National Women's Day, Balsara invited dozens of women from the creative team behind Aladdin to the stage. This poignant gesture spotlighted the vital contributions of women in the arts and served as a powerful message to the students in attendance about the importance of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in the creative arts.

This special performance stood as a testament to the enduring power of stories, the magic of live theatre, and the invaluable opportunities that arise when we open the world of arts to young minds.

Inspired was created by Situation Project 501(c)3.

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