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Tucson's Invisible Theatre stages poignant play, “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Tucson's Invisible Theatre stages poignant play, “Tiny Beautiful Things”

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“Tiny Beautiful Things,” adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s book, is based on letters from an advice column filled with joy, forgiveness and redemption.

One would not expect much depth from an advice column called “Dear Sugar.”

But in “Tiny Beautiful Things,” now on stage at Invisible Theatre, that is not what you get. OK, sure, there is some sweetness. But there is also pain, joy, forgiveness and redemption in this often funny, more often poignant, play.

Nia Vardalos adapted Cheryl Strayed’s book “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.” For two years, Strayed, the author of the bestselling book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail,” wrote the Dear Sugar advice column in the online magazine The Rumpus.

The letters seeking her insight are filled with angst, anger, guilt and questions about such things as affairs, thievery, cheating spouses and love.

Sugar — played with authority by Susan Cookie Baker — answers the heart-wrenching questions by pulling from her own difficult life.

Her answers, which are sometimes a tad long-winded, weave stories that go from the personal to the universal, and it is impossible not to be pulled in and touched by them.

Reading the letters with feeling and wonder were Emily Gates, Richard “Chomps” Thompson, and Tim Tully, who moved back to Tucson after 30 years in Seattle and settled into his old home, the Invisible Theatre stage.

Samantha Cormier’s direction gave us a seamless play that moved with rhythm and purpose.

Invisible Theatre still has smaller audiences, continues to social-distance and requires masks. But even with audiences half the size they normally are, the theater never felt empty thanks to the warmth generated on stage.

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