Watch “Tiny Beautiful Things” and Read Review

 

Watch the live-streaming below of Nia Vardalo’s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling book of advice,  with Teddy Canez, Hubert Point-Du-Jour, Nia Vardalos, and Natalie Woolams-Torres. The video, which was presented live on Stars in the House May 6th as part of its twice-weekly matinee program Plays in the House, will remain available online through Saturday, May 9th.

The livestream production of “Tiny Beautiful Things” might seem to be four or five times removed from the original moving stories (depending on how you count) of people asking for help in their struggle with loss and love, crises and regrets.  I wondered whether it made sense to try to adapt a collection of advice columns on stage, when I saw “Tiny Beautiful Things” at the Public Theater in 2016. But the performances were so effective that it more than made up for the awkward set-up. In an elaborately detailed set meant to resemble a lived-in home, Vardalos, playing Cheryl Strayed (pen name: Sugar), puttered around absentmindedly, doing her household chores — washing dishes, folding laundry – while the three other actors stood around in her home, looking weirdly out of place, as they took turns reciting the various letters, to which Sugar then responded.
In the live-streamed version below, with the four actors each occupying his or her own square on the screen, the awkwardness of the staging disappears, as we get closer to the actual experience of the advice column — characters in their homes  seeking advice from Cheryl in her home.

The most moving moments now have shifted for me; I’m not sure whether I happened to be in a different mood this time around, or the performances (and two of the four performers) have changed, or whether putting it closeup and online changes what works best.

Sugar’s advice was always long and involved and often personal…confessional. This time around, she seems to take even more time in answering; there are more pauses than I remember (perhaps because she’s not folding laundry now.) But we who are watching also have more time these days to listen.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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