By Debbie Adams
Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) brought its production of “Stellaluna” to the Vinton Library on
Oct. 13. There was a full house for the musical, which is being presented across the valley from
Oct. 3-29 as part of the Young Audiences program.
According to MMT, “Stellaluna, the fruit bat, Verdi, the snake, and Pinduli, the hyena, are all
looking for refreshment at a watering hole one hot day, only to find themselves the subjects of a
bullying lion’s ridicule. The three share stories about themselves, build their self-confidence, and
ultimately find wisdom, peace, and friendship.” The stories are told mainly through songs.
There were many enthusiastic homeschoolers, preschoolers, and family members in the
audience. The actors in the cast were mainly local, unlike MMT summer Young Audience
performances which bring in actors from across the nation.
Not only was there singing, dancing, and lots of comedy involved; there was also a good bit of
science education. Children learned from Pinduli, the striped hyena, that there are four kinds of
hyenas, what their diets consist of (they are omnivores), and that they are not related to dogs.
Pinduli shares her story of how other animals made fun of her looks on the savannah and made
her doubt herself.
The audience learned from Verdi, the snake, that snakes are not slimy, and that non-poisonous
varieties squeeze their prey. Verdi shares a story of being an energetic, golden, young snake who
doesn’t want to grow old and become grumpy and slow like the older green pythons he meets.
But he discovers that growing up is not so bad and it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Stellaluna taught the audience that bats are not birds – they are mammals and don’t have
feathers. They eat mainly fruit, leaves, nectar, and pollen, but also small insects. They sleep in
the daytime and are active at night, unlike birds which do the opposite. Bats also hang by their
feet to sleep, unlike birds. The audience was reassured that although there are vampire bats, none
live anywhere near Roanoke.
Stellaluna shares her story of getting separated from her mother after a frightening encounter
with an owl in the treetops. Lost and alone, she finds a family of birds who take her in, but want
her to change and act like a bird to fit in with their family. They want her to sleep at night, eat
bugs, and not hang by her feet. She struggles until she finds out who she really is and how to be
In the end, they all discover that, with friends and family to make it through, everything will be
The show is based on popular books by Janell Cannon. Books and lyrics are by playwright Alyn
Cardarelli with music by composer/pianist Steve Goers.
Cannon is said to have written the story about bats because of the negative perceptions many
people have of them, and because they are not often featured in children’s books.
Themes in “Stellaluna” included friendship, overlooking differences to find common ground and
the universal emotion of “feeling like a bat in a bird’s world.”
Check the website at https://millmountain.org/ for upcoming productions.