Saturday, July 31, 2021

TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS • Max & Louie Productions

Based on letters compiled and turned into a best-selling book by author Cheryl Strayed after her 2 year stint as an advice columnist for an online magazine, Tiny Beautiful Things proves a wonderful choice for St. Louis audiences longing to return to live theatre. 

Not long after a freelance writer and mother of two agrees to take over the advice column, “Dear Sugar”, her laptop starts to ding with incoming help seekers of all sorts. Whether it’s the indignity of a youngster being stuck with the uncool kids, or the indecision over trading in one lover for another, Sugar doles out advice that is clear-eyed -- the kind of attentive, candid guidance that can come from a stranger. More than once after hearing a letter, I thought to myself, “Ooo. Wonder how she’s gonna answer that one?” Light-hearted queries are sprinkled in among letters that deal with knottier subjects about love, loss, redemption and forgiveness. It’s these moments where Sugar recalls the mistakes and learned lessons from her own past with honest, relatable connections. These universal connections, elicited by strong performances, are the play’s biggest asset.

Letter Writer 2 (Wendy Renée Greenwood),

Letter Writer 3 (Abraham Shaw), Letter Writer 1 (Greg Johnston)

and Sugar (Michelle Hand).

Photo credit: Patrick Huber 

There’s no traditional plot to speak of, but director Sydnie Grosberg Ronga keeps the action fluid and the actors keep us invested. The always engaging Michelle Hand is Sugar -- witty and thoughtful, while Greg Johnston, Wendy Renée Greenwood and Abraham Shaw deftly inhabit a variety of characters in Sugar’s orbit -- baring their souls one minute and challenging her proficiency the next.

Whether the messages in Sugar’s inbox are humorous or heavy, there’s familiarity in them, and encouraging affirmation in her replies, and after the year we’ve all had, that’s a really nice thing. It’s playing at the Grandel (with masks required) until August 8th.

Letter Writer 2 (Wendy Renée Greenwood),

Sugar (Michelle Hand) and Letter Writer 3 (Abraham Shaw).

Photo credit: Patrick Huber 


Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed

Adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos 

Directed by Sydnie Grosberg Ronga

The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square

through August 8 | tickets: $35 - $50

Performances Sundays at 2pm, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm

(Masks Required)


Sugar: Michelle Hand

Letter Writer 1: Greg Johnston

Letter Writer 2: Wendy Renée Greenwood

Letter Writer 3: Abraham Shaw

Letter Writer 1 (Greg Johnston) and Sugar (Michelle Hand).

Photo credit: Patrick Huber 


Publicist/PR: Marla Stoker Ballenger

Production Manager: Kevin Bowman

Scenic Designer: Dunsi Dai

Assistant Stage Manager: Rachel DeNoyer

Costume Designer: Eileen Engel

Graphic Designer: Tovah Enger

Sound Designer/Audio Engineer: Phillip Evans

Production Stage Manager: Emily Ann Fluchel

Covid-19 Safety Officer: Lexie Godefroid

House & Box Office Manager: Taylor Gruenloh

First Electrician: Mason Hagarty

Lighting Designer: Patrick Huber

Managing Director: De Kaplan

Master Electrician: Zak Metalsky

Assistant Technical Director / Wardrobe Supervisor: Patrice J. Nelms

Props Designer/Scenic Painter: Katie Orr

Technical Director: Isabelle Scheibe

Producing Artistic Director: Stellie Siteman

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