Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Disappointing

About the show

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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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

80
Theatermania

"A tiny beautiful diamond of a show...In a theatrical setting, this built-in sense of remove is a dangerous constraint, but a risk that ultimately maintains the enchanting purity of 'Tiny Beautiful Things.' Even more so than on the page, the play offers a meditative rhythm of delivery, acceptance, and response: There's a completeness of thought in every letter... It's the novelty of thoughtful dialogue — and the realization of its near extinction — that will make you weep." Full Review

80
The Huffington Post

"Whether it be the revisions, the cast changes, or simply the luxury of two months of prior playing time, 'Tiny Beautiful Things' plays considerably better now than the first time round...What was formerly admirable and well-meaning is now a heart-tugging, emotionally rewarding evening with no qualifications...Vardalos takes Strayed’s book and translates the magic to the stage." Full Review

60
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Even as well performed as the show is…85 uninterrupted minutes of it is asking for trouble. It's the kind of material many people prefer to read in dribs and drabs…; on stage, though, with one letter and response following the other, with the letter writers being generalized figures (only subtle hints differentiate one from the other), and with the only dramatic tension residing in what the next letter might say, there's plenty of room for boredom to invade the premises.” Full Review

87
Front Mezz Junkies

"The ordinary miraculousness of this play is still solidly and most definitely entwined intensely inside every moment...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 insignificant in the least." Full Review

85
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Vardalos delivers a powerful performance as Sugar...Under Kail’s fluid direction, the actors offer authentic performances, giving each character a believable personality…Attending a performance of 'Tiny Beautiful Things' is like seeing dozens of plays whose characters, conflicts, settings, and themes change with every twist of the kaleidoscope revealing the tiny beautiful things that make us human, and vulnerable, finite, and resourceful–full of grace and truth.” Full Review

95
TheaterScene.net

“Nia Vardalos has done a beautiful job as both adapter and star of the stage version of Cheryl Strayed's 2012 best seller, ‘Tiny Beautiful Things,’ the book based on Strayed's online advice column which she wrote as ‘Dear Sugar.’ As co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, director Thomas Kail and actress Vardalos (who you may recall also wrote ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding,’ her breakout role), ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ is both entertaining and cathartic, an evening of communal group therapy.” Full Review

60
Talkin' Broadway

"While the play delivers a number of emotionally moving moments, it is difficult to get past the fact that the characters who seem to be interacting are at a remove and unknowable...Director Thomas Kail has brought the stories as far off the page as possible...But no matter how much affection and design went into the production, it remains a nagging truth that none of the interaction is really taking place...In the end, it is less of a play than a book talk." Full Review

80
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"With a compelling stage presence, Vardalos portrays Sugar...Vardalos puts plenty of feeling and sincerity into Sugar’s personal responses. Occasionally the back-and-forth becomes a bit wearisome, as all of the inquiries aren’t dealing with momentous problems, but there are also significantly poignant moments...The content runs the gamut of human experience and difficulties." Full Review

70
Front Row Center

"Not quite a play, 'Tiny Beautiful Things' could perhaps be best described as the staged version of an advice column...Prose that is often luminous and touching, but that unfortunately cannot always escape the eye roll-inducing, mawkish bits one comes to expect from the Ann Landers of the world…About halfway, both Strayed and Vardalos deliver a riveting piece of theater…It is heart-wrenching, splendidly written and acted, and somehow functions as the emotional climax." Full Review

55
Broadway & Me

"There's no narrative...Kail moves everyone nicely around Rachel Hauck's homey set, but I got antsy after the first 15-minutes. That’s partly because I’m not big on the pop psychology that gets peddled in most advice columns. But it’s also because most of the show's dialog sounds like the kind of aphorisms you might find on posters at your local yoga studio...But that’s just me. Most of the folks seemed enraptured...So the decision about whether you should see it is up to you." Full Review

60
Theater Pizzazz

"Trying to bring real substance to Strayed’s popular book on stage creates its own problems. The adaptation by a genuinely fine storyteller, Vardalos, who plays the role of Strayed/Sugar, is enticing...After 85 minutes of hearing 'Dear Sugar'–utilizing the same format, over and over–it begins to get tedious...I did come away feeling that 'Tiny Beautiful Things' is an offering of hope...I also came away with the feeling of how an audience can be manipulated." Full Review

40
Daily Beast

“On stage, Sugar’s narcissism is exacerbated because the play doesn’t use any dramatic device to create a piece of narrative. There is no sense of jeopardy, no progression, no development of Strayed as a character…There are also some piercing moments toward the end, where the brevity of Strayed’s writing again proves so much more powerful than the gloopy, be-your-best-self sermonizing preceding it…They are too brief and fleeting...A little too late, Sugar acquires some snap.” Full Review

70
New York Magazine / Vulture

"Vardalos and Kail are attempting to give their audiences a comforting place in which they might heal...If the show isn’t as effective as it could be, it’s because of the twofold difficulty of theatricalizing a series of anonymous advice columns...Kail and Vardalos manage to save themselves, though, with the show’s finale...'Tiny Beautiful Things,' despite its shortcomings, ends in a place of community and generosity." Full Review

55
Simon SEEZ

“As commendably directed by Kail...the exchanges are all semi-passive, a steady stream of shared and responsive confessionals and quires of a very personal nature...The actors make a concerted effort to not sound like they are reading their epistolary-like text but it doesn’t solve the problem of this being a play without any solidified confrontations...Nevertheless, some very sad stories are revealed and you would have to have a heart of stone to not be moved to some degree.” Full Review

85
Manhattan Digest

"Fewer shows have provided the emotional impact as this one...Vardalos stars as Strayed in a subtle but winning performance...There is a letter here for everyone. For anyone who has ever lived life in all of of its glory and disappointment—this is a show for you...In the wrong hands, 'Tiny Beautiful' could easily have veered into treacly, sentimental schmaltz. Yet with such fine actors, a wise adaptation, and gentle direction, it is one long letter of hope, comfort, and reassurance." Full Review

80
City Cabaret

"The pros and cons of a non-linear concept or what Strayed called, 'therapy in the town square,' are still present, pluses including actress/writer Nia Vardalos' earthy honesty and intelligence and the downside is repetition and low stage drama. Strayed’s book has a substantial following and Vardalos brought its sensitivity to the stage...The raw emotions are electric...The four characters are all effective but the laser centers on Vardalos' nuanced credibility, understanding and heart." Full Review

75
Epoch Times

"The work might be more accurately adjudged to be a theater piece rather than a play. It lacks the direct interplay of a typical play. But the philosophy expounded appears to strike home...The appealing Vardalos holds the stage confidently, with excellent support from the other players. It is another production from the Public Theater, stressing the warmer, more humane aspects of humanity." Full Review

75
The Wrap

“Vardalos brings a forthright sensibility to the role of Strayed…And she shows even more restraint in adapting the material, letting Strayed’s own lyricism and storytelling speak for itself…It’s easy to see the appeal—her advice can seem both homespun and hard-won…She’s also attuned to the possibility of forgiveness—even, perhaps hardest of all, of our own shortcomings...And that’s a message that resonates, even in the slender form of a theater piece.” Full Review

90
Stage Left

"No matter what difficult subject Strayed tackles, there is someone in the audience who has lived it...Knowing that and being a part of that gives the evening a kinetic poignancy that is cathartic and moving. That exchange exists nowhere else but in live theatre, and is brilliantly displayed in this stunning production. Bottom Line: Cheryl Strayed’s 'Tiny Beautiful Things' is a powerful and moving testament to the strength and resilience of the soul." Full Review

80
The Clyde Fitch Report

"As in all resonant theater, the play provides insight into both the characters on stage and in the audience... Three actors smoothly assume the multiple personalities and stories, fluidly portraying gender and age and offering their voices as a chorus or else in heartbreaking monologues. At the center of it all, Vardalos traces a graceful arc...Dialogue and design are delicately calibrated in 'Tiny Beautiful Things,' supporting a story told in a truly digital space." Full Review

30
Off Off Online

"'Tiny Beautiful Things' is dead on arrival. With its monochromatic script, repetitive staging, and tone-deaf politics, it’s the anti-'Hamilton'...The concept unfortunately padlocks the actors inside a hamster wheel...It is sporadically striking, largely thanks to Strayed’s killer metaphors...If only it weren’t all so unrelentingly tedious...'Things,' comes dangerously close to propaganda for a very limited, very white worldview...There’s a short leap from 'We’re all Sugar' to 'All Lives Matt... Full Review

80
Times Square Chronicles

“A sensitive tone poem; by turns serious, funny, heartbreaking, often quite touching, and somehow almost always uplifting...The cast is splendidly in tune with each other and the material, Vardalos being the radiant, healing soul at the center...A bit long...It occasionally and unintentionally repeats emotional work which consequently makes the sustaining of dramatic tension a bit more of a test...Given the rewards of the evening, that seems an almost negligible caveat.” Full Review

90
Stage Buddy

“Although rivetingly sad, even depressing at times, it also manages to be cathartic and hopeful…Kail’s consistently brilliant direction brings Sugar as close to her letter-writers as she can be, making for a poignant exploration of 'radical empathy'…Vardalos’s performance is nuanced and deeply human…her delivery is raw, truthful, and full of so much warmth and honesty that it impossible not to feel the strength of her embrace." Full Review

80
The New York Times

for a previous production "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

for a previous production "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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

75
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Charming

See it if You like small-scale personal plays about humanity

Don't see it if A lot of the dialogue felt like it was pulled from generic inspirational quotes about life and happiness

77
Interesting but slow

See it if you read or listen to Cheryl Strayed's writings or podcasts. The sentiments and writing are beautiful and heartfelt, but play felt slow.

Don't see it if you like plot, action, dramatic tension. It more resembles a monologue or solo performance than a play with four actors.

89
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Moving, Heartwarming, Offers many words of wisdom

See it if you'd enjoy hearing actors read advice column letters&the replies. If you're a fan of Nia Vardalos or any of the other talented cast members

Don't see it if you're a Tin Man (no heart). Otherwise, go and enjoy. If you're looking for a traditional play, this is not that but very enjoyable!

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Emotional, Sentimental

See it if you want an emotional show that actively tugs at your tear ducts. Though sprinkled with humor, it's hits every heavy topic you can think of.

Don't see it if you want something light. There are a few moments that are cheesy and overdone. Otherwise, it's a sincere & emotional show

88
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting

See it if You want to see a show that may be a bit contrived yet manages to touch on many emotional and heartfelt ideas with a genuine genius.

Don't see it if You have a cold, cold heart...or if you think theatre without much plot that deals with emotions and darkness should stay at the therapists.

82
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you are interested in seeing a compact show that is able to cover a wide variety of topics simply due to its premise. Nia is captivating.

Don't see it if you want to see something light and fun. There are funny moments, for sure, but there are also many dark moments and heavy subject matters.

75
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow, Great staging

See it if you’d like to see a conversational & multi character play that shows you human connection in the form of an advice column & responses.

Don't see it if you prefer your plays with plot or linear narratives.

88
Funny, Resonant, Indulgent, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you want to see Cheryl Strayed's book come to life beautifully. Or if you want to hear after-school special stories.

Don't see it if you're not interested in hearing a collection of short stories or aren't a fan of Cheryl Strayed.

65
Intense, Quirky, Resonant, Indulgent

See it if you like what is essentially an acted advice column well acted but after a while a little repetitive and over-written.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of this sort of rather rambling and incoherent advice to random problems.

Also I found this to be much less moving and emotional than I expected and ... Read more Read less

49
Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if you are in need of a nap.

Don't see it if you like your characters in a play to interact.

92
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great writing

See it if You love great, insightful writing and flawless delivery.

Don't see it if You are expecting a comedy or mindless entertainment.

79
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you are in need of some good old-fashion storytelling that pulls at the heart strings.

Don't see it if you think that life experience doesn’t make one an expert, able to give good common sense advice.

Also This stage adaptation of the material from author Cheryl Strayed’s boo... Read more Read less

84
Thought-provoking, Profound, Refreshing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you love Nia Vardalos and cathardic theater.

Don't see it if you want a straight linear storyline. This play is basically a bunch of monologues taken from an online advice column, but it's great.

69
Disappointing, Fluffy, Plotless

See it if you really love Cheryl Strayed and don't mind a plotless show that doesn't quite earn the emotions that it tries to pull out of you.

Don't see it if you need a play that has plot, or if you prefer your tears to come about through true theatrical catharsis.

86
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound, Resonant

See it if Letters were expertly chosen and arranged so moving moments were relieved by comedic moments; Vardalos has all the right notes

Don't see it if Nonexistent dramatic tension as you get seemingly unexpected "surprises" as an alternative; cynics might find it contrived and maudlin

83
Profound, Resonant, Great writing, Empathetic

See it if you want a touching 90 minutes of human connection and empathy. Beautiful performances from all four actors

Don't see it if you need a traditional, narrative story arc

71
Quirky, Relevant, Resonant, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you like "Dear Abby" updated but still the basic idea of advice to the troubled who have no one else to speak with. Well done sincere

Don't see it if you want "entertainment" with flash or action. This is a static but essentially humane interaction between people who never meet but connect

90
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you’ve ever written to an advice columnist. Or even if you haven’t. The situations are varied; you’re sure to find yourself in at least one.

Don't see it if you prefer traditional narratives. This show has no singular story. There’s no action. But the words will move you.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great writing

See it if You enjoy Cheryl Strayed’s work. Unusual structure, moving and funny and real. Sensitive topics sensitively handled.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a more conventional plot or can’t follow rapid character changes by a four actor ensemble. Or you don’t want to cry.

85
Absorbing, Intelligent, Refreshing, Relevant, Emotional

See it if The fine threads of emotions, love, loss, brutality and longing weave a rich tapestry of stories that are the lives of real people.

Don't see it if You have no patience for introspection. The age of Trump fights against emotion, if that is where you are, stay away.

71
I wanted to like it but didn't

See it if You love Nia Vardalos. This is a dramatized advice column. So there is anguish portrayed and wisdom given but no plot.

Don't see it if If you are engaged in the production it will be emotionally draining. If not you will probably take a nap.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if If you enjoyed reading Dear Abby, you will enjoy this play. It has more heart in it. Nia Vardalos & the entire cast do a great job.

Don't see it if You're not into lovelorn columns.

75
Great acting, Touching, Long-winded

See it if you would enjoy a play with a small cast that explores very human problems and moments.

Don't see it if Many around me were moved to tears, but I didn't feel the same emotional impulse. A sweet reminder of what makes life worth living.

65
Disappointing, Fluffy, Manipulative, Tiresome, Not really a play

See it if self-help books are your favorite genre, and if you enjoy daytime talk shows. If you liked Tuesdays with Morrie, this is for you.

Don't see it if You require tension and drama when you go to theatre.

71
Intense, Quirky, Resonant, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if Fine ensemble work & Kail's yeoman direction provides interest for about 1st 30 minutes of this confessional style advise drama But then...

Don't see it if Despite its empathetic qualities & often heartfelt questioning, the play becomes rather static & heavy - losing interest & becoming boring


Cast & Creatives (14)