Opens Sep 19

Tiny Beautiful Things

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Great writing
70
Critics
61
19 reviews
Members
73
51 reviews
 

The Public Theater presents an encore run of this comedy starring Oscar nominee Nia Vardalos and based on the eponymous book by best-selling author Cheryl Strayed. Directed by Tony winner Thomas Kail ('Hamilton').

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Vardalos is Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist (later revealed to be Strayed) whom thousands of people have turned to for words of wisdom, honesty, and hope. At first unsure of herself, Sugar finds a way to weave her own life experiences together with the deep yearning and real problems of her readers, creating a beloved column about the monstrous beauty, endless dark, and glimmering light at the heart of being human.

 
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Cast & Creatives (9)



Reviews (70)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
61
Avg Score

80
The New York Times

"A handkerchief-soaking meditation on pain, loss, hope and forgiveness…'Tiny Beautiful Things’ turns out to provide an ideal catharsis for those suffering from the various deep-dyed blues…This production is not a successful narrative play in any conventional sense. But it works beautifully as a sustained theatrical exercise in empathy…The cast members endow their characters with distinguishing individuality and, more important, a connective emotional transparency." Full Review

65
Theatermania

"An emotional (and slightly sappy) new play that compellingly theatricalizes the act of giving and receiving advice…Unfortunately, as performed by Vardalos, this radical sincerity often comes across as completely false…Vardalos' costars are more successful…While Sugar's sweeter moments are likely to send some viewers into a diabetic coma, 'Tiny Beautiful Things' captures its subject succinctly and effectively." Full Review

80
BroadwayWorld

"Warm, funny and endearing...There's no plot to the 80-minute piece and very little drama in the traditional sense...With no dramatic through-line, Vardalos and Kail establish rhythms and tension by balancing the funny with the emotional, the quick Q&As with the lengthy confessionals...As Sugar, Vardalos is continually touched, amused and amazed by her readers...hoping that they'll always see themselves as deserving of life's tiny beautiful things." Full Review

20
The Hollywood Reporter

"A lackluster theatrical piece...Director Kail provides little theatricality to the static proceedings...Vardalos, looking suitably unglamorous, is appealing as always. But she can’t breathe life into her inherently passive, responsive role...By the time the seemingly interminable proceedings reach their conclusion, you’ll be mentally dictating your own letter to Sugar, asking how to erase the memory of monotonous evenings in the theater like this one." Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"Watching the awkwardly constructed but incredibly moving 'Tiny Beautiful Things', I realized my powers of analysis were being drowned out...My brain kept protesting that these multiple 'translations' (Internet to book, book to stage) weren't working: Vardalos is rather too cool; Strayed's language is better on the screen/page; the show's convention of having letter writers ask questions...can be annoying. But Strayed's advice knocks you down with its avalanche of kindness." Full Review

75
Variety

"Some may find the show little more than a multi-character, well-written Ted Talk, and its rhythms and anecdotes too predictable...But Kail creates a graceful, fluid, low-key dynamic that has those letter-writers inhabiting Sugar’s everyday world. The stories they tell, the anguish they feel and the questions they ask are quiet cries for help, and Sugar is there for them because she is one of them...In this shared experience, love and forgiveness is all — and sometimes, just that is enough." Full Review

65
New York Magazine / Vulture

"‘If this were drama, the SAT would be Chekhov. But then drama, at least the traditional kind, does not seem to be what anyone was after…Lacking intrinsic momentum, the show’s 90 minutes can’t help but unreel a bit stuporously, despite Kail’s typically careful balancing of tempo and tone. That the show nevertheless keeps your interest is mostly a tribute to the acting…If this is a classic ‘why?’ endeavor it still has plenty of powerful moments in which you are persuaded ‘why not?’" Full Review

85
New York Theater

"Unbearably moving…’Tiny Beautiful Things’ inspires such strong emotional reactions that the awkward set-up winds up not mattering much…What’s most startling and rewarding about her stories is not just that they are told well, but that they are applied to advice-seeker’s dilemmas to which they don’t on the surface seem relevant…Is it too schmaltzy to call this play a tiny beautiful thing?" Full Review

45
Lighting & Sound America

"An advice column doesn't really a play make...Strayed can turn an elegant phrase...But there's no drama here, no development, no increasing complexity or deepening of feeling. It's just a series of questions and answers, and even the deep empathy of the latter after a while becomes a little bit dull. Vardalos, who has a natural stage presence and the skill to make a pause in the conversation vibrate with unspoken thoughts, goes a long way toward holding our interest." Full Review

45
AM New York

"A well-meant but messy and unnecessary stage dramatization…Vardalos, Kail and Marshall Heyman made an unusual and creative attempt to inject a series of essays with a dramatic spine, giving the actors a big set to play around with and having Vardalos convey the author’s own emotional journey over time through subtle acting choices. However, the question-and-answer cycle quickly becomes repetitive and makes for a long and strained 80 minutes." Full Review

45
Talkin' Broadway

"The questions are gorgeously intoned by Brannon, Narciso, and Woolams-Torres…But intoning those questions is, essentially, all they do. To the extent drama occurs along the way, it's found in the gradual peeling away of the layers of artifice Sugar builds up around herself to defend against the dangers of Internet anonymity…Is that journey enough to power a full evening, even one this comparatively short? For me, no." Full Review

85
New York Daily News

"The play, adapted by and starring Nia Vardalos, upends expectations. It’s provocative, poignant and rich — and at 75 minutes reminds that very good things come in ‘Tiny’ packages…Vardalos, who plays Sugar, plus Phillip James Brannon, Alfredo Narciso and Natalie Woolams-Torres, breathe life into various advice seekers, give fine, feel-real performances. Director Thomas Kail sets the action in a lived-in home that might be or have been yours, mine, anyone’s. That’s the point." Full Review

75
CurtainUp

"These three actors are so good they bring these epistolary exchanges closer to creating the real human connection for which the internet will never be a substitute. Vardalos not only steps into Ms. Strayed's shoes with grace and feeling but has done a good job of trimming, adding and reorganizing some of the material. The book's most heart-wrenching segment rounds out the piece with a get-out-your-handkerchief moment...Handsomely staged and warmly performed." Full Review

80
Front Mezz Junkies

"This group of gifted actors portraying all sorts of characters reaching out for advice from ‘Sugar,’ pulls us skillfully and honestly into their stories and predicaments. It’s almost shocking how we can be so thoroughly engaged so quickly into these personal pleas for help and guidance…It feels utterly genuine and sometimes profound. It’s a beautiful piece of work Vardalos has created, not tiny at all, although as a ‘play,' I struggled with the forward drive and momentum." Full Review

40
Newsday

"Vardalos has an unaffected, straightforward steadiness and a compassionate face to match someone who presumes to answer pleas for help...Perhaps to distract from the 80-minute play’s static, monotonous, confessional quality, the letter writers wander the place looking at knickknacks...Meanwhile, Sugar reveals her own life traumas and comes up with uplifting psychobabble about healing and accepting 'the authentic you'...It’s just too sappy to be theatrical." Full Review

25
The Wrap

"The goopiest play of the year. In comparison, ‘Love Letters’ is Chekhov...I kept waiting for these letter writers to feel so much better about themselves after listening to Sugar grovel in her sordid past, and be done with her. But no. Sugar has learned from life’s trials and mistakes, and passes on those lessons free of charge (except for theatergoers) with her tight face scrunched into the deepest empathy and bathed with tears, lotsa tears." Full Review

65
Bob's Theater Blog

"Vardalos portrays Strayed with no-nonsense directness…Each time one of the other actors appears, he or she is playing a different person so there is little opportunity to build a character…Sugar’s answers come out in polished prose. I would have preferred reading them at my leisure over hearing them on a stage…Thomas Kail’s direction tries hard to enliven a basically static situation. I admired all the good intentions, but I found the effort ultimately misguided." Full Review

55
Daily Beast

"Sometimes moving, often insightful, and occasionally funny…Without more depth of character, the play starts to feel like someone reading too many fortune cookies…Ultimately, the play is saved—and the 80 minutes on stage made worthwhile—by the last question...Kail knows how to make emotional endings. If only he had insisted on a bit more narrative arc to the rest of the story, it could have made for a more powerful play." Full Review

80
Village Voice

"If reading 'Tiny Beautiful' is for some a spiritual experience, the play demystifies Strayed's process, moving briskly and balancing emotional punch with just enough humor to let the material breathe...Fans will appreciate Vardalos's vulnerable yet straightforward performance. They'll also appreciate her adaptation's hewing closely to the original text, without any superfluous content or character development. Mostly, though, they'll recognize and revel in Sugar's oft-memed prescriptions." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
73
Avg Score

80
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Accurate to the book

See it if you like the writing of Cheryl Strayed, the entire script was verbatim from the book. You like cluttered, intimate sets with lots of color.

Don't see it if you don't like non-congruent vignettes, there isn't a consistent story line.

Also "Tiny Beautiful Things" is my favorite book, so I was nervous to see t... Read more Read less

55
Ambitious

See it if you know and like the story.

Don't see it if you prefer a storyline that flows rather than a poorly connected dialogue among characters.

Also Great story, but poorly adapted for the stage.

50
Disappointing, Dull, Static, Manipulative, Undramatic

See it if you want to hear psychobabble about forgiving yourself and being deserving. The message that kindness counts is worthy, but not new.

Don't see it if you demand engrossing theater. This show has hot button issues (self-loathing, child molestation, alienation, etc), but little depth.

93
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You want to see fantastic actors in a wonderful, thought provoking show.

Don't see it if You want a light time at the theater. This play will make you think. At one point basically everyone in the audience was crying.

65
Great acting, Resonant, Overrated, Slow, Fluffy

See it if You are a fan of Nia Vardalos or the writing of Cheryl Strayed. The show is engaging on an emotional level but not much else. Set was nice.

Don't see it if You don't like mushy storytelling. This was an indulgent piece by the Public. Tough ticket to grab for not much substance.

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if Amazing performance by the whole cast, especially by Ms. Vardalos. Touching. Moving. Emotionally raw. Filled with humanity.

Don't see it if There's not much of a plot. It's more of an anthology of grief.

60
Great acting, Intelligent, Indulgent, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you are a Nia Vardolos fan, enjoy plays that are more like a succession of anecdotes than plays, enjoy a good cry, love over-sentimentality.

Don't see it if plays that go nowhere bore you, you don't care for Nia Vardolos, you dislike over-emphasis on sentimentality, disdain manipulated emotion.

65
Indulgent, Emotional, Misguided, Well-intentioned, Manipulative

See it if you are a fan of Cheryl Strayed or Nia Vardalos.

Don't see it if you expect a play with dialogue and a narrative arc, not an epistolary collage.

Also Great set. Good acting, especially by Alfredo Narciso. Better read tha... Read more Read less

71
Great acting, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you are a fan of Cheryl Stray's book or Nia Vardalos or other talented cast member.

Don't see it if your looking to see a play with a plot.

54
Boring, Banal, Cliched, Slow, Great staging

See it if You find advice columns profound and can't get enough of them

Don't see it if You bristle at frequent cliches. While acting was good , and staging was great; the play itself was melodramatic and banal.

69
Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you love the book it is based on & enjoy non stop advice questions answered with personal experiences by the talented actress Nia Vardalos

Don't see it if you don't enjoy plays with no plot or build up, but a series of questions and answers about love and life.

89
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want terrific acting, meaningful stories about life that all can relate to. Powerful.

Don't see it if You don't want your heart to burst!

78
Moving, Affecting, Wonderful writing, Good interpretation of source material

See it if you're a Cheryl Strayed fan like me or if you are moved by tales of human suffering and transcendence. If you like epistolary-type shows.

Don't see it if You need a plot; this is presented, like the book, as a series of anecdotes - letter and response. If you cry easily, bring tissues.

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you are under 40 and have ever experienced love trouble, family problems, or drug issues. You like hearing about other people's problems.

Don't see it if you are over 50 as many of the stories related to younger people.

Also Don't see it if you are expecting some mind-blowing advice to help you... Read more Read less

50
Intense, Raunchy, Banal, Insipid, Slow

See it if You like Nia Vardalos. It was boring and seemed to go on forever even though it was only 90 minutes.

Don't see it if If you like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". You will be disappointed.

74
Sad, Indulgent, On-point acting, Creaky concept

See it if The lonely/disappointed seeking online advice seems compelling. Their stories are touching, but the play structure leaves their reactions...

Don't see it if ...unknown and the plot undeveloped. Cheryl Strayed's intimacies become cloying. But Nia Vardalos and cast are adept at gleaning our empathy

95
Absorbing, Profound, Refreshing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want to see a play told simply, with great emotional heft and resonance in everyday life.

Don't see it if You want a straight foward story with a beginning, middle and end.

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You love the source material especially if you like to hear and absorb yourself into others experiences

Don't see it if If you can't handle melodrama

0
Awful., Simply awful.

See it if you are interested in what Oskar Eustis green lights when he is having an off day.

Don't see it if just don't see it—a waste of time and money.

80
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You like a heartfelt and emotional play about life, grief, and forgiveness. Most people will find something relatable to their own lives.

Don't see it if You want more action. The plot is revealed slowly and beautifully in a series of questions and answers.

85
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant

See it if You enjoy storytelling, long monologues, up close theater

Don't see it if Stories about death, abuse, loss of a child are too much to handle

65
Quirky, Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if The set was masterful.

Don't see it if You don't like Therapy-speak.

72
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Cliched, Tear-jerking

See it if you are interested in a play made up of loosely connected, moving anecdotes. You appreciate stories about pain and healing.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a sad, sentimental, and at times cliched play without a definitive plot. You don't like intimate productions.

68
Atlernately wise and irritating. more a reading than a play. good acting.

See it if You're a fan of Cheryl Strayed and advice columns.

Don't see it if You prefer a play (action, plot, characters) as opposed to what seemed to be more like a reading.

Also I wasn't bored, but I also wasn't moved, and now I have a hard time re... Read more Read less

84
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great writing, Cliched

See it if If you liked "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, she has a singular voice, and like an emotional and meaningful experience. Nia Vardalos is great.

Don't see it if you don't want to see people talking about their feelings, and don't like one woman shows, which this almost is.