Victory Gardens Theater kicks-off its 45th Anniversary season with the Chicago Premiere of Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos and co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos and directed by Vanessa Stalling. Tiny Beautiful Things runs September 6 – October 13, 2019, with press performance on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.
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.
“Tiny Beautiful Things turns out to be about the endangered art of listening to – and really hearing and responding to – other people.” – The New York Times, Critic’s Pick
"We are proud to give a Chicago premiere to this gorgeous adaptation of Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. This profound and emotionally rich play deftly explores the power and complexity of love, healing and forgiveness in a way that connects us all on a basic human level," says Chay Yew. "I can’t think of a more relevant play that reminds us that empathy, during these divisive times, is needed more than ever.”
The cast of Tiny Beautiful Things includes Janet Ulrich Brooks (Sugar), August Forman (Letter Writer 3), Eric Slater (Letter Writer 1), and Jessica Dean Turner (Letter Writer 2).
The creative team includes Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Design), Theresa Ham (Costume Design), Rachel Levy (Lighting Design), Jeffery Levin (Sound Design and Original Music), and Rachel Watson (Props Design).
About the Artists
Cheryl Strayed (Author) is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Strayed's books have been translated into nearly forty languages around the world and have been adapted for both the screen and the stage. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl's mother, Bobbi. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Tiny Beautiful Things was adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, who also starred in the role of Sugar/Cheryl. The play was directed by Thomas Kail and debuted at The Public Theater in New York City in a sold-out run in 2016. Strayed's essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host of the New York Times/WBUR podcast Dear Sugars, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus, and she's the co-author of The Sweet Spot advice column in the New York Times Thursday Styles section. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
Nia Vardalos (Adaptor) A writer, actor and director for screen and stage, Vardalos wrote and starred in the hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and its sequel, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and an Independent Spirit and People’s Choice Award. Stage credits include Jennie in Theatre20’s Company, directed by Gary Griffin, and writer and actor for twelve Chicago The Second City’s revues (Jeff Award winner). Additional writing and acting film and television credits include “Connie and Carla”, “I Hate Valentine’s Day”, “My Life in Ruins”, “For a Good Time, Call …”, “Graves”, “The Catch”, “Jane the Virgin”, and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. She is the author of Instant Mom, the story of adopting her daughter from foster care.
Vanessa Stalling (Director) most recently directed Photograph 51, by Anna Ziegler, at The Court Theatre. Other productions include A Shayna Maidel, by Barbara Lebow, at TimeLine Theatre, and The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, at The Goodman. She is also known for directing United Flight 232 for The House Theatre, a production she created by adapting Laurence Gonzales’ book Flight 232. For close to a decade, Stalling was a core artist at Redmoon Theater, serving as a director, performer and Associate Artistic Director. She is an assistant professor of directing at the University of California San Diego's Department of Theatre & Dance. She is a company member of The House Theatre, was the 2016 Michael Maggio Fellow at the Goodman Theatre, a New City 2018 Player, and was recently announced as an Honored Finalist for the Women In the Arts & Media Collaboration Award.
Janet Ulrich Brooks (Sugar) Pipeline, Native Gardens, Failure: A Love Story, Jacob & Jack (Victory Gardens) Master Class, The Audience, The How & The Why, 33 Variations, A Walk In The Woods, All My Sons, and others (TimeLine Theatre/Company Member), The Children (Steppenwolf), Plantation (Lookingglass), 2666, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, The Seagull, A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Teddy Ferrara (Goodman), The Lady With All The Answers (Theatre At The Center), By The Water, 10 Chimneys (Northlight), Cat on Hot Tin Roof, Crazy for You (Drury Lane) Regional: Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Woolly Mammoth, DC) Film & TV: Divergent, Conviction, One Small Hitch, Fools, Market Value; “Proven Innocent” “Sense8” “Chicago Justice/Med/Fire” “Boss” “Playboy Club”
August Forman (Letter Writer 3) Victory Gardens debut. Chicago: The Fair Maid of the West, Elizabeth Rex, To Kill a Mockingbird (Oak Park Festival Theatre), Girl in the Red Corner (Broken Nose Theatre), The Lady Demands Satisfaction (Babes With Blades), Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight), Les Innocents ((re)discover theatre), Target Behavior, Tight End (20% Theatre Company), Lysistrata (The Side Project Theatre), The 39 Steps u/s (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre), Harbur Gate u/s (16thStreet Theater).
Eric Slater (Letter Writer 1) Victory Gardens: Hand To God. Chicago: Small Jokes About Monsters (16th Street Theatre); Support Group for Men, Feathers and Teeth, Smokefall (Goodman Theatre); Cal in Camo (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); The Doppelganger (an international farce) (Steppenwolf Theatre Co.). Off-Broadway: Juvenal Players (The Kitchen); The Dudley's: A Family game! (Theatre for a New City); Our Greatest Year (Kraine); Original cast of Gloryana (Workshop Production, The Public Theatre, The York Theatre Company); and Cyanocitta (The Beckett / Theatre Row). Film: Widows, Coming To You. TV: “Chicago Fire”. Eric is a proud member of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble.
Jessica Dean Turner (Letter Writer 2) Victory Gardens: Tiny Beautiful Things. Chicago: Red Rex (Steep) United Flight 232, Season on the Line (The House), Letters Home (Griffin), Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (Haven), The America Play, Pink Milk (Oracle Productions). Regional theatre: As You Like It, Caesar, Pride and Prejudice (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Comedy of Errors, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Arkansas Shakespeare Festival). Film & TV: "You Too?", CRISIS, Chicago PD. Represented by Paonessa Talent.
Full Performance Schedule:
Previews for Tiny Beautiful Things are September 6-12, 2019. Previews are $25-$50. The Press opening is Friday, September 13, 2019 at 7:30pm. Regular performances run September 14 – October 13, 2019: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3pm. Regular performances are $31-$65.
Accessible Performance Schedule:
ASL Interpreted Performance: Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm
Word for Word (open captioning): Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm, Saturday, September 21 at 3:00pm and Wednesday, September 25 at 2:00pm
Audio Description/Touch Tour: Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, September 29 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)
Performances are at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000, email email@example.com, or visit www.victorygardens.org. Ask the Box Office about discounts for students, seniors, and those with access needs. Groups of 10 or more, call 773.634.9862 for discounted rates.
Fact Sheet Tiny Beautiful Things
Title: Tiny Beautiful Things
Based on the book by: Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for the stage by: Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by: Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos
Directed by: Vanessa Stalling
Cast: Janet Ulrich Brooks (Sugar), August Forman (Letter Writer 3), Eric Slater (Letter Writer 1), and Jessica Dean Turner (Letter Writer 2)
Creative Team: Courtney O’Neill (scenic design), Theresa Ham (costume design), Rachel Levy (lighting design), Jeffery Levin (sound design and original music), and Rachel Watson (props design)
Previews: September 6 - 12, 2019
Press Performance: Friday, September 13, 2019
Regular run: September 14 – October 13, 2019
Schedule: Tuesdays - Fridays: 7:30pm; Saturdays: 3:00pm; 7:30pm; Sundays: 3:00pm
Accessible Performances: Word for Word (open captioning): Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm, Saturday, September 21 at 3:00pm and Wednesday, September 25 at 2:00pm;
ASL Interpreted: Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm
Audio Description/Touch Tour: Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, September 29 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)
Location: Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood
Tickets: Previews: $25 - $50; Regular run: $31 - $65
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.
2018/19 Season Sponsors: REAM Foundation, George A. Joseph, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, Bill and Orli Staley Foundation, Sue E. Wallace, Helen Zell
Season Sponsor Partners: Conant Family Foundation; Rick and Dawn Gray; Marcelle McVay and Dennis Zacek; Jeffrey Rappin and Penny Brown; Jane M Saks, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Production Sponsors: Virginia and Gary Gerst, Jared Kaplan and Maridee Quanbeck
Playwright’s Society Sponsors: Sarah Beardsley
Student Matinee and Youth Engagement Sponsors: Exelon, AllState, Capital Group Private Client Services
Travel Sponsor: Southwest Airlines
In-Kind Sponsor: Whole Foods Market
Major Season Support: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation.
About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.
Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.
Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The REAM Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation.
Additional major funding comes from Crown Family Philanthropies, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Polk Bros. Foundation.
Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (with Year of Chicago Theatre funding from BMO Harris Bank and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation), Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Time Warner Foundation, Inc.
Additional funding this season Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation Inc., Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, ComEd, Conagra Brands Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, Goldman Sachs, John R. Halligan Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council (with support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety + Justice Challenge), ITW, MAP Fund, Mayer Brown LLP, The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, McKinsey Company,The McVay Foundation, Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Negaunee Foundation, Roberta Olshansky Charitable Fund, Origin Ventures, Pauls Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, The Poetry Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation.
In-kind support is provided by: Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Suite Home Chicago, and Whole Foods Market.
Capital improvement support from the Performing Arts Venue Fund at the League of Chicago Theaters, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Capacity Building support by Compass-Chicago.
Victory Gardens Theater is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+theatres. Book your next show today at ChicagoPlays.com.
For more information about Victory Gardens, visit www.victorygardens.org . Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram @victorygardenstheater.
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