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  Tiny Beautiful Things at Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph

Tiny Beautiful Things

Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph
2433 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago

Based on the best-selling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, Tiny Beautiful Things personifies the questions and answers that "Sugar" was publishing online from 2010-2012. When the struggling writer was asked to take over the unpaid, anonymous position of advice columnist, Strayed used empathy and her personal experiences to help those seeking guidance for obstacles both large and small. Directed by Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51 Court Theatre, A Shayna Maidel TimeLine Theatre, The Wolves Goodman) Tiny Beautiful Things is a story about reaching when you're stuck, healing when you're broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions which have no answers.

Thru - Oct 20, 2019

Tuesdays: 7:30pm
Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Price: $25-$50

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-871-3000

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins

Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph Seating Chart

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  Tiny Beautiful Things Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...The no-nonsense Janet Ulrich Brooks plays Sugar, dispensing advice of "radical sincerity" as a small clutch of actors (August Forman, Eric Slater and Jessica Dean Turner) play her various correspondents. In a departure from Thomas Kail's original New York production, which was set in Sugar's kitchen and living room, the skilled and nuanced director Vanessa Stalling chooses for the Chicago premiere an urban diner, where the advice-giver and the advice-seekers all swirl around coffee beans in a grinder, looking for the right cup in which to land."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...It’s smartly simple in its construction: The cast of four remains onstage throughout, with Sugar (Janet Ulrich Brooks, her inherent frankness well deployed here) listening and responding as the three other actors (August Forman, Eric Slater and Jessica Dean Turner, each terrific) embody her letter writers. Vardalos opens with a brief exchange establishing how Strayed took on the column, and uses its readers’ speculation about her identity as a mild through line. (Like Lederer and Ann Landers, Strayed inherited the mantle of Dear Sugar from a previous writer.)"
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...There isn't a discernible narrative arc to the order of the letters, necessarily. But what does build is a sense that empathy requires the ability to sit with our own stories and those of others and not look away from the pain, the ridiculousness, the mistakes, and the moral failings as we make our way through what Strayed describes as "the obliterated place" that is "equal parts destruction and creation.""
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Kerry Reid

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...A muscular ensemble led by Janet Ulrich Brooks as a curiously understated Strayed, also featuring Eric Slater, Jessica Dean Turner and the always-watchable August Forman playing numerous correspondents, strive to sustain momentum sufficient to suggest progress in a flattened narrative arc inevitably skewing toward repetition, while director Vanessa Stalling struggles to impose mobility on a stage picture composed of flat-pack coffee shop decor and quasi-meditative bridging music. If you're already a Strayed fan, none of these shortcomings are likely to disturb you, but playgoers of drier temperament may want to look elsewhere for counsel."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Considering that in America 2019 the art of empathy has fallen into disuse or even detestation, more than before we need to re-value “tiny beautiful things” to count our blessings."
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Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...Janet Ulrich Brooks, who always does an outstanding job embodying her character, is astounding as Sugar. Brooks is masterful in drawing the audience into each word spoken by Dear Sugar to where you walk away feeling like her words as Dear Sugar, helped you."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...I have often said that when Janet Ulrich Brooks is on a play, any play, anywhere, I will make sure that I am in the house. I love watching her work! No matter the characters she is asked to play, they are always played to perfection. That is pretty much proved again in her latest triumph, “Tiny Beautiful Things” based on the book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The collective humanness is the truly extraordinary thing about this piece of work. These truths have been felt, crafted and shared by a long line of writers before the audience hears them: from Cheryl Strayed’s beloved mother, Bobbi, to Strayed/Sugar herself, to the letter writers, to Vardalos and Stalling, to Brooks and the rest of this spectacular cast, all of whom give these words a rich, theatrical life, carrying palpable layers of heart, intelligence and experience."
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Erin Shea Brady

WTTW - Highly Recommended

"...“Tiny Beautiful Things,” artfully adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos (who wrote and starred in the hit film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”), and expertly directed by Vanessa Stalling, is now receiving a moving, flawlessly acted Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens Theater that features a tour-de-force, award-worthy performance by that quintessential Chicago actress, Janet Ulrich Brooks, as “Sugar.” And she receives invaluable support from Eric Slater, Jessica Dean Turner and August Forman as a slew of different “Letter Writers.”"
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Smart and tenderly directed with great sensitivity and understanding, Vanessa Stalling’s production is a must-see. She’s artfully guided her talented cast to become reborn as each character and to allow theatergoers the space to receive and reflect. Every audience member will find himself listening, sometimes laughing, perhaps even crying. But everyone will feel during this play. Ultimately what seems deceptively simple in concept, is revealed to be a complex meditation on the meaning of life. Never heavy-handed nor maudlin, this is a celebration of everything that makes every one of us human."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...Ultimately, this is the kind of play people will like who like this kind of play. I would have preferred one of those cutting edge new plays that have made Victory Gardens such a major contributor to the area theater scene under Chay Yew’s artistic leadership. Still, the acting is exemplary and the material often affecting. If that is faint praise, so be it."
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Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...Strayed’s style of straight-talking sincerity draws from a deep well of hard-earned honesty and vulnerability; her version of life advice and sisterhood falls into similar space as Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown, women who champion embracing life with bravery and love. Cynics in the audience at Tiny Beautiful Things may find much of what unfolds to be trite life advice, oversimplified to a degree that it loses all meaning. But this is their loss, as the whole point of a show like this one is to be open to it. There’s no plot at all; it’s just the letter writers imploring Strayed for her opinion and input on any number of matters, from the funny and weird to the very serious and sad. At each turn, Strayed does her best to be as transparent and relatable as she can, even as her readers question her qualifications for such a gig."
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Lisa Trifone

The Hawk Chicago - Recommended

"...In our darkest moments, we seek someone who will guide us toward light. From 2010-2012, writer Cheryl Strayed acted as such a glimmer to hundreds of strangers, overseeing an advice column called “Dear Sugar” with tremendous empathy, openness, and honesty. Now, thanks to a well-crafted adaptation of Strayed’s book (a collection of these letters and responses) by Nia Vardalos, audiences at Victory Gardens Theater have the opportunity to bask in Strayed’s glow as well. In a 90 minute journey filled with words powerful and profound, Victory Gardens’ production of Tiny Beautiful Things is a moving, cathartic theatrical experience."
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Emily Schmidt

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...There are many wonderfully comic moments as well, and all of the actors play them beautifully. You’ll laugh. You’ll probably cry, too. In the end, though, you’ll find yourself in awe of the kind of woman who can be so openly and publicly herself to total strangers. Cheryl Strayed (who is also the author of Wild, among other things) is the kind of person you wish could be your friend, as Vardalos’ script tenderly shows. Not everything about this play can justifiably be called “tiny,” but there is no doubt that it is beautiful. You’ll be talking about this elegant and deceptively simple play to everyone you know. It is the embodiment of honesty and love, and you shouldn’t miss it."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...One of the most remarkable aspects of director Stalling’s growing and impressive body of work is her acute sense of rhythmic pace. These are individually exceptional performances from a company that is ever-present, constantly moving you over the course of the play from the place you were to a new understanding of acceptance, forgiveness and love. "
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...Anyone who treasures theater that speaks to human connection will find much to savor in this script. Director Vanessa Stalling has martialed the talents of this top tier cast and creative team to allow the script to sing. If you love to watch Oprah, in this writer’s view, you should especially beat a path to the box office to see this play soon, and maybe more than once."
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Amy Munice

  Tiny Beautiful Things Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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