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Tiny Beautiful Things

From 42 critic and 200 member reviews
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'). More…

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.


“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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Theater

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?" Full Review

New York Daily News

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." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Profound, Resonant

See it if The idea of an advice column turned into a play intrigues you. Each Q&A from Dear Sugar is treated perfectly by this small, talented cast.

Don't see it if You're hoping to see a story's beginning, middle, and ending. This show is a collage of different stories/advice.

Enchanting, Masterful, Must see, Profound

See it if You want to see a powerful play about life and the questions we ask as told through vignettes of “dear Abby” type letters

Don't see it if You don’t enjoy non-linear story telling

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You love Nia Vardalos or have a heart. This show was very moving and excellently staged. I saw it 2 weeks ago and still think about it often

Don't see it if You're wanting a flashy, loud, or glossy production or just want to be entertained.

Also This show will make you think, cry, laugh, but overall leave loving hu... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Intelligent, Must see

See it if Wonderful acting,sensitively told stories I loved every moment you laugh and cry the audience never moved

Don't see it if I can't imagine anyone not finding something in this wonderful show

Poignant, Profound, Timeless, Heartbreaking, Universal

See it if You enjoy chicken soup for the soul or self help books or social work. You want to experience whirlwind of emotions from despair to hope

Don't see it if You are sensitive to issues such as rape, child abuse, transgendered acceptance. Be aware that there is subway vibration heard throughout.

Also See it if you enjoy monologue driven plays with call and response inte... Read more Read less

Brilliant acting, funny, sad, great writing, powerful

See it if You appreciate truly fine writing and first-rate acting. This is a play for connoisseurs of language. It's a comedy with a dramatic edge.

Don't see it if You don't like stories about therapy or people's problems.

Also I was never a fan of My Fat Greek Wedding. I didn't dislike it but fel... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if you want to be reminded of forgiveness and humanity.

Don't see it if heavy topics like assault, death, and grief may result in unfavorable thoughts/circumstances for you.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Must see, Resonant

See it if Everyone should see this. Sugar is inspiring, heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny, and honest. I want to write a letter for her to respond to

Don't see it if The only reason I can think to not see this is that it's not family friendly

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you love good acting and excellent writing and clever staging

Don't see it if i highly recommend it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if You want a talented cast working through the human condition. Be prepared to ugly cry as "Sugar" works as an advice columnist.

Don't see it if You want a linear play or a full on comedy.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great writing

See it if This is a performance piece rather than a traditional play. Riveting stories in the form of advice columns. Moving with light, funny moments

Don't see it if This is not a traditional play in terms of structure, narrative and character. More like mini vignettes strung together by "Dear Sugar"

Absorbing, Resonant, Riveting, Great writing, Powerful

See it if You wan.to be moved by raw and vulnerablse performances in this powerful show! Be prepared to dig deep...

Don't see it if You prefer narrative plays. This is a series of advice columns told through monologues.

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.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Great acting

See it if You're someone who identifies with your grief. You're interested in a show that is unusual in its formula. You like Sugar.

Don't see it if You need conflict, traditional narrative, or exciting dramatics.

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.

Great acting, Intense, Profound

See it if Like plays that are from the heart

Don't see it if Like action

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.

Exquisite, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if believe in the power of the human spirit and the beauty in helping others by sharing your experience.

Don't see it if You don’t want to see a deeply emotional show

Also Tears were flowing in the audience. But you leave with hope. This is a... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intense, Resonant

See it if you want a talky play that has something to say.It had me in tears at the end, but there was a lot of laughter before that point.Very moving

Don't see it if you want a play with traditional plot.This is series of Dear Abby type letters, but on a deeper emotional, philosophical level. Excellent

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if Clever play about an advice columnist. Intelligent, witty and at times brutally honest.

Don't see it if The play talks explicitly at times about sex, drugs, relationships, etc. It may not be for the squeamish.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you like musicals and like Carole King's music. Good story of her life and career.

Don't see it if You do not like musicals and are looking for serious plays. You do not like Carole King's music.


See it if If you’re a fan of the song writer

Don't see it if F

Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy thoughtful dialogue and meaningful conversations.

Don't see it if You want to see a play that has a beginning, middle and end.

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Intense, Masterful

See it if You want a cry, and are interested in hearing personal stories told in a interesting way

Don't see it if you are easily triggered by tradegy

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.

Cast & Creatives (14)