By Stephanie Bunker
Moapa Valley Progress
The Fratello Marionettes brightened up the Moapa Valley Library on Saturday with their performance entitled, “Carnival of the Animals.” Approximately 80 people came to enjoy the show.
Marionette’s are puppets that are controlled with wires from someone above the puppet on a raised stage. The “Carnival of the Animals” is a marionette show that is put to a symphony and has no words. The audience uses the music and expression from the puppets to determine the plot.
Kid’s faces lit up as the “Tortoise and the Hare” appeared on stage to begin their race. Soon after that the “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf” entered to begin their story. Another children’s story that was presented was the “Ugly Duckling.”
These three children’s stories were intertwined with one another as the puppet and puppeteer create a delightful and humorous performance for the audience.
The music for “Carnival of the Animals” was composed by a French composer, Camille Saint-Saens in 1886.
Local youngster, Ryan McMurray talked about his favorite part of the marionette show. “I liked it when the little pig turned the brick house into a jail for the wolf,” he said.
The Moapa Valley Library District is given a choice of several different shows to perform at the library.
“The Fratello Marionettes came last year and it was so popular that we picked them again this year,” said Maggie McMurray who works at the library.
Kevin Menegus and Fred C. Riley are the Performers of the Marionettes. Menegus is the Founder of Fratello Marionettes, and has had the company for 15 years. Riley has worked for other puppeteer companies for 20 years and has been employed with Fratello Marionettes for the past 5 years.
The Fratello Marrionettes perform in a variety of different venues. They have performed in Schools, Community Centers, Libraries, Cruise Ships, Wineries, Corporate Events, Conventions, Fine Arts Fairs, Music Festivals, and Private Parties. Many of the marionettes are performed in front of audiences from 200 to 500 people.
Not only do the two men perform the act, but they also build everything they use. This includes the puppets, the set, and the props.
“It takes 3 months to make one puppet,” Menegus said, “People don’t see the endless hours it takes.”
Another reason to enjoy his job is because there are many different techniques involved, Menegus said. He and Riley sculpt, mold, cast, and paint, as well as fabricate costumes for each of the puppets. The intricate hand pieces used to control the puppets are carved out of wood.
“It incorporates everything, performance and building,” Menegus commented.
According to Riley, they will end their season of performances soon to build a new set for the show, “Aladdin.” It takes approximately a year to complete the set and puppets for a marionette.