Ballard Institute hosts wildly entertaining 'Help Save the Monkey!' performance

Marta Mozelle MacRostie and Liz Hara perform during the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry's showing of “Help Save the Monkey!” in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, April 9, 2016. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry hosted a wildly entertaining performance of “Help Save the Monkey!” in the last installment of its Spring Puppet Performance Series, Saturday afternoon.

“Help Save the Monkey!” is a puppet comedy adventure developed and performed by Marta Mozelle MacRostie and Liz Hara of the Brave Bucket Company. 

The show is about 8-year-old Howard and 80-year-old Lillian. The two embark on a mission to rescue the old woman’s pet monkey, who has been orbiting the earth since Lillian’s team at NASA launched him 50 years earlier.

His space pod is about to land in the middle of the ocean, but the project was disbanded year earlier and only Lillian knows exactly when and where he’ll land. Because of this, she must be there at the exact moment the pod arrives, or else it will sink and her monkey will be trapped at the bottom of the ocean forever. 

Despite personal anxieties, a lack of physical coordination and being pursued by Howard’s dim camp counselor and Lillian’s clueless nurse, the two develop a heartwarming friendship that helps them succeed at their complicated mission.

The Ballard Institute was packed with families excited to watch Hara and MacRostie’s dazzling performance. Their show was hilariously written and featured catchy music, a yoga-addicted monkey, witty one-liners, and even an elaborate dance sequence. 

“We were inspired to create ‘Help Save the Monkey!’ by our belief in the importance of intergenerational relationships, and our desire to wear moustaches while making fart jokes,” Hara and MacRostie wrote in the show’s program. 

Their expertise and immense talent were obvious throughout every minute of their performance.

“I thought [the show] was really good, very entertaining. They were good actresses and great puppeteers,” said Lois Silver of Morris, Connecticut. 

Liz Hara is a writer, builder and puppeteer who has built puppets and costumes for various films and plays, including “Avenue Q” and “The Lion King.” She currently works for “Sesame Street” as a writer, puppet and costume builder, and wrangler.

Marta Mozelle MacRostie is a playmaker, puppeteer, and builder who’s performed in various shows such as “Puss in Boots” and Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer is Dead.” She studied puppetry and music at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and spent a semester on exchange in the University of Connecticut's puppetry arts program.

“Help Save the Monkey!” was the final show of the Ballard Institute’s Spring Puppet Performance Series. Their Summertime Puppet Performance Series will begin in June and features original work from students of UConn’s puppetry arts program.


Helen Stec is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email athelen.stec@uconn.edu.