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String Up the Moon @ PuppetART Theater by DC-in-Detroit

Last night I saw Fratellanza's "String up the Moon," a small production, at its heart about ambitions thwarted and love unrequithed.

The show is in two parts, telling two different stories. The first is presented from the POV of one man, a middle-aged civil servant (Jim Manganello), whose desire for status -- and a woman above his station -- eats away at his sanity. I quite enjoyed this performance, particularly looking back on it the next day. While it does tend to have a bit of a surreal feeling to it (only the narrator speaks, while the two other actors [Paul Manganello and Sango Tajima] animate empty clothing and play the parts of animals and objects), the melancholy of our Poprishchin seeps in on the viewer, until his complete break with reality seems like a success.

In the second act, the action focuses on the famous rivalry between Mozart and Salieri. Paul Manganello as Salieri orates at great length, while Jim Manganello's Mozart fusses like an unaware celebrity.

The PuppetART Theater was another star of the show, filled as it is with beautiful artworks; puppets, scenery, objects of all kinds. Come early and spend some time with them.

The theater only seats about 50 people at most, and on opening night, every chair was occupied, by an attentive and, I'm guessing, educated audience. "String up the Moon" is certainly not a performance for everyone, but for those who would like to see an innovative take on two old tales, in an intimate and lovely space, I definitely recommend it.

But you've only got a couple of chances left, so don't wait for a coronation; move quickly.

Fratellanza presents
String Up the Moon

September 5-8: PuppetART Theater (tickets here)
Preview September 5

September 14: Michigan Legacy Art Park - Frohlich Amphitheater

September 20-21: Jam Handy - Detroit Design Festival (tickets here)

September 21: Special performance with Russian tea afterparty at the Jam Handy: $25

DETROIT, MI—After last summer’s sold-out show The Mute Quire, Fratellanza creates a new production for September 2013. String Up the Moon looks into the human heart and finds two men wrought by desire. A lowly government clerk lusts up the ladder of the Russian civil service. A brilliant musician murders his friend and idol, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and justifies his act on cosmic grounds. These tales meet to form a theatrical sonata of dreams and madness. 

Fratellanza’s ensemble from across the arts adapts two Russian tales, “The Diary of a Madman” by Nikolai Gogol and Aleksandr Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri.” Three performers translate the poetry and movement of Gogol and Pushkin. Jazz musician Michael Malis composes an original score. All performed in a playground world created by visual artist Reed Esslinger. 

String Up the Moon will premiere at PuppetART Theatre in Detroit, September 5-8. The show then travels to northern Michigan for outdoor performances September 12-14. Finally, the show returns to Detroit as a unique theatrical component of the 2013 Detroit Design Festival, playing at the historic Jam Handy building on September 20 and 21. Following the performance on Saturday, September 21, as a special Design Festival event, there will be a late-night Russian Tea for audience and artists to talk and drink, as Russian animation streams on the walls.

String Up the Moon

Written by the ensemble, after Gogol and Pushkin

Jim Manganello
Paul Manganello
Sango Tajima

Michael Malis

Reed Esslinger

Samuel Blake

Tickets at