Pasadena Playhouse, the State Theater of California, hosted a star-studded opening night last evening for The Public Theater production of Tiny Beautiful Things starring Academy Award-nominated writer and actress Nia Vardalos, who reprises the role of Sugar for the Playhouse production.
Vardalos originated the role of Sugar at The Public Theater under the direction of Thomas Kail. She also created the stage adaptation of Tiny Beautiful Things based on the New York Times Bestseller of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. The project was conceived by Vardalos in conjunction with Thomas Kail and Marshall Hayman.
Celebrities attending included Reese Witherspoon, Cheryl Strayed, Rita Wilson, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, Jane Kaczmarek, Busy Phillips and Adina Porter, among others.
The cast of Tiny Beautiful Things includes Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris who will play the role of Sugar at select performances (Off-Broadway: The Emperor Jones, HBO’s Sharp Objects), Teddy Cañez (Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire, Off-Broadway: The Public Theater’s Tiny Beautiful Things), Natalie Woolams-Torres (Off-Broadway: The Public Theater’s Tiny Beautiful Things, The Mobile Unit’s Hamlet), Giovanni Adams (Little Black Shadows at South Coast Repertory Theatre, The Model Apartment at Geffen Playhouse), Adam J. Smith (Pasadena Playhouse: 12 Angry Men, Intimate Apparel and Matter of Honor) and Sarah Hollis (A Raisin in the Sun at A Noise Within, King Charles lll at Pasadena Playhouse).
The New York Times named Tiny Beautiful Things a Critics’ Pick, stating Vardalos’s performance was “luminous,” and that “Tiny Beautiful Things turns out to be about the endangered art of listening to — and really hearing and responding to — other people … it works beautifully as a sustained theatrical exercise in empathy… a deeply reciprocal relationship between a show and its audience.” Time Out New York said it is “Incredibly moving,” and New York magazine described it as, “Tiny moments when the world surprises us with care.”
Vardalos’s stage credits include Jenny in Company directed by Gary Griffin (Theater 20) and she is an alumna of The Second City in Chicago and Toronto. Her film writing/acting credits include My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel (Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, Independent Spirit and People’s Choice Awards), Connie and Carla and I Hate Valentine’s Day. Her film and television acting credits include My Life in Ruins; For a Good Time, Call…; Graves; and Jane the Virgin. Ms. Vardalos’s memoir Instant Mom is a New York Times Bestseller, and all proceeds are donated to adoption groups.
Sherri Eden Barber has restaged the Playhouse production based on the original direction by Kail, who directed both of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway shows – In the Heights and Hamilton, for which he won the Tony Award for Direction (2016). Performances run now through Sunday, May 5.
Tiny Beautiful Things is about Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist to whom thousands of people have turned 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.
The stage version of Tiny Beautiful Things comes to life as a richly funny, uniquely uplifting and moving play. It is about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken and finding the courage to take on the questions, which have no answers.
Author Cheryl Strayed also wrote Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, that was the first selection of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0; and was adapted to film starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Thomas Sadoski, star of the Pasadena Playhouse production of Belleville.
The design team features scenic design by Rachel Hauck; costume design by Jennifer Moeller; lighting design by Jeff Croiter; and sound design by Jill BC Du Boff.
Venue: The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Dates: Now through Sunday, May 5
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m; Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Prices start at $25
Online — PasadenaPlayhouse.org
By phone at 626-356-7529
In person — Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Please note that Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris will replace Nia Vardalos in the role of Sugar for the following performances: April 20, 2 p.m., April 21, 2 p.m., April 27, 2 p.m., April 28, 2 p.m., May 4, 2 p.m., and May 5, 2 and 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529, and in person at the Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.