When asked to take on an advice column for the literary website, Rumpus, Cheryl Strayed said yes, pouring her heart and soul into the responses to the many letters sent to “Sugar.” Under the guise of anonymity, she built a community of followers who entrusted her with their truths and their secrets. Cheryl collected the letters over the few years, compiling them into a book. The result is an emotional collection of mini-stories that will have you on a rollercoaster of feelings.
Actress Nia Vardalos, known for many things including the beloved “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” adapted the book into a live stage play, directed by Sherri Eden Barber. Now you can see “Tiny Beautiful Things” at the Pasadena Playhouse, April 10th through May 5. We were given free tickets to attend the play on opening night, so I can share my feelings and photos with you.
Though the cast is small, the play packs a punch that not only lays out the healing Cheryl Strayed finds in helping the letter writers, but the devotion they have towards learning more about her, the person providing sage advice. Cheryl, or “Sugar,” has gone through quite a lot in her life, and her candor is compelling. As she helps others resolve their personal issues, she deals with the hard and hidden feelings from the loss of her mother and horrible things she faced as a child.
Tiny Beautiful Things is an 80-minute long play, without an intermission, placed in the home of Cheryl, or “Sugar.” As she goes about her daily life, packing her kids’ lunches, washing dishes or otherwise puttering around her home, she ‘hears’ the letters read by one of the other three cast members. She has virtual conversations with them, via letters and replies, and we’re privy to her heartfelt thoughts as she reveals things to herself, and about herself, to the letter writers.
The play will hit everyone in the heart at least once, if not more. People from all walks of life wrote Sugar. The woman facing pregnancy loss hit me hard. There’s the man looking for permission to cheat on his spouse, the young man abandoned by his family for sharing his real self, and the people struggling to tell someone they love them. So many stories are wrapped up in this play, and you’ll instantly be sucked in.
Tiny Beautiful Things Cast
The play stars Nia Vardalos as “Sugar,” and Giovanni Adams, Teddy Canez and Natalie Woolams-Torres are the three letter writers. Each of the writers portrays every individual writer perfectly, with humor and aplomb, as some are a little different, such as the “what the f***, what the f***, what the f***” writer. Cheryl handles that one with finesse, along with the others who share adult content, making this play inappropriate for the younger crowd.
Tiny Beautiful Things at the Pasadena Playhouse makes a wonderful girls’ night out. It’s a play men can enjoy as well, but I attended with my young adult daughter and I witnessed many groups of women enjoying free Wine Wednesday, offered by the playhouse, in the courtyard prior to the show. Parking is directly across the street on El Molino and is only $5 for the evening. The playhouse connects to Trejo’s Tacos, which is a fantastic place to grab a margarita, apps or a meal before the play.
After the play, we had the pleasure of a brief meet and greet with the cast upstairs in the playhouse. (The building alone is worth the visit!) Nia is genuine, kind and beautiful, and Teddy, Giovanni and Natalie were so friendly to speak with. Here’s a brief clip of the cast answering some questions from fellow bloggers and writers.
They are talented and multi-faceted, as each took turns reading letters, from the perspective of the writer, in a way that had us believing they were that person.
I haven’t see a lot of plays lately, but seeing Tiny Beautiful Things at the Pasadena Playhouse makes me want to change that. Tickets are affordable, the venue is easily accessible off the 210 freeway and anywhere I can park without paying $20 or walking 1/2 mile is gold. The play started at 8pm, so by 9:30pm, you could be on the road so you’re not out late…just late enough to take a break from the rest of your busy schedule.
I’m involved in a lot of glitz and glam events, for which I’m ever-grateful, but there’s something special about seeing talented actors in a new light, one without re-plays and re-takes and digital effects.
Dear Sugar, I hope to be as brave as the writers of the letters and as open as Cheryl Strayed.Nia Vardalos
So true. The play will have you feeling the same.