The bottom line
Stellaluna, a play adapted from the popular picture book by Janell Cannon, is a nocturnal adventure with music, dance, puppets and humor. This sweet story about celebrating differences is on at Seattle Children's Theatre throug Jan. 15. Kids as young as 3 will appreciate the staging and the story, and older kids will love it as well.
Stellaluna follows the adventures of a baby fruit bat who gets separated from her mother. She ends up staying with a family of birds and laments the fact that she is different.
The set for the play is spare, with a piano, trees and stumps on casters for moving around the stage. The five actors are barefoot, dressed plainly in black and purple and fully visible to the audience as they work the puppets. The play opens with the pianist calling for Stellaluna. Instead of a fruit bat, a tap dancer, a bouncy guy named Bobo and two singers come in, but no bats. Soon, Stellaluna’s mother, a large bat puppet, is revealed hanging from a tree. She opens her wings and we finally see the baby bat Stellaluna.
At first, my companions and I were unsure if the staging of this play, with visible puppeteers would “work” for us — but the acting was so good that it pulled us into the story. The dialogue follows the book, and the songs add to the experience.
Other fun staging notes: During the night scenes, you see shadows of the bats flying on the stage backdrop, and the bats’ eyes light up (my son’s favorite part!).
We especially enjoyed Christian Duhamel’s performance. As pianist, actor and music director, he effortlessly played complicated passages — often in funny body positions such as standing on the piano bench — to the delight of the audience.
Tip: Be sure to stay after the performance and to bring your camera and a pen. As with all SCT productions, the actors stay after the show to interact with guests and give autographs. At Stellaluna, after the show, actors continue the conversation about the play’s theme by asking children to name things that are different about themselves.
Parents should know
SCT recommends this play for ages 3 and older. I brought a 9-year-old girl and a 9-year- old boy and they both loved the show. My son read the book aloud to his friend on the way and I recommend reading the book before the show with your child. I think 3 years and up is a good recommendation.
“My favorite part was JoJo bouncing!”
If you go ....
Where: Charlotte Martin Theater is located at the west end of Seattle Center at 201 Thomas Street Seattle WA 98109
Tickets: Tickets start at $27. Buy online.
Parking: There are four paid parking lots within blocks of Seattle Center, check here for directions. Allow plenty of time for parking.
Tips: Prepare by reading the Active Audience Guide, which has an interview with author Janell Cannon, as well as lots of information about bats.
More to do at Seattle Center: Check out Winterfest, the Seattle Center Armory's annual winter festival; see the Sherlock Holmes exhibit at Pacific Science Center; explore the newly named MoPop; or play at the awesome Artists at Play playground.