Tiny Beautiful Things
Closed 1h 20m
Tiny Beautiful Things
75

Tiny Beautiful Things NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(202 Reviews)
Positive
74%
Mixed
21%
Negative
5%
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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Member Reviews (202)

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50
Disappointing, Manipulative, Dull, Undramatic, Static

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.

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

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.

Critic Reviews (42)

New York Magazine / Vulture
October 2nd, 2017

"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."
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Theatermania
October 2nd, 2017

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
October 2nd, 2017

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
October 31st, 2017

“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.”
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Theater Pizzazz
October 6th, 2017

"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."
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Front Row Center
October 3rd, 2017

"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."
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Stage Buddy
October 3rd, 2017

“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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
October 2nd, 2017

"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."
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T
October 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 6th, 2017

“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.”
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The Huffington Post
October 2nd, 2017

"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."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
October 5th, 2017

"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."
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Broadway & Me
October 14th, 2017

"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."
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Stage Left
October 10th, 2017

"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."
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Daily Beast
October 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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Simon SEEZ
November 12th, 2017

“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.”
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City Cabaret
October 10th, 2017

"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."
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Manhattan Digest
October 9th, 2017

"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."
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The Wrap
October 2nd, 2017

“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.”
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The Clyde Fitch Report
October 3rd, 2017

"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."
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Epoch Times
October 12th, 2017

"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."
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Off Off Online
October 13th, 2017

"'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 Matter.' "
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Times Square Chronicles
October 10th, 2017

“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.”
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The New York Times
December 7th, 2016
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."
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Time Out New York
December 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"‘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?’"
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The Hollywood Reporter
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Variety
December 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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New York Daily News
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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AM New York
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Theatermania
December 7th, 2016
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."
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BroadwayWorld
December 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 15th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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CurtainUp
December 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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New York Theater
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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?"
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B
December 28th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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The Wrap
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Newsday
December 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Daily Beast
December 7th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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Village Voice
December 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"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."
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