The Valley Center Stage’s Production of Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Tiny Beautiful things’: Be Prepared to Cry

[Guest Post by Susan Burk]

The Valley Center Stage (VCS) has been presenting variety shows, plays and special events since 2003. 

VCS has long been a part of North Bend Community Theater, a non-profit theater arts organization devoted to igniting the spontaneous creative spirit that exists in all people. Since that time, VCS has been performing at the North Bend Masonic Hall but had to move during the pandemic.

The Masons desired to repurpose that space for their use, and the theater ended its lease in early 2020. The Sallal Grange had been in consideration of new locations due to the parking space and the ability to renovate the almost 100-year-old building to meet the theater’s needs.

While they miss being on the main street of downtown North Bend, they hope that the location (1.4 miles straight east of the old spot) is worth the short drive, the ease of parking provides an added benefit. The newly tiered seating and expanded space of a dedicated theatrical space will be suitable for all.

A deal was made with the owners of the Sallal Grange, with the theater company agreeing to fix up the old building in exchange for converting the space into a new theater. An enormous amount of work to create their beautiful new space. 

This new space boasts a 100-seat capacity, offers concessions before a show and at intermission and hopes to host food trucks in the future to provide ‘dinner and a show.’

‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ is a play written by Cheryl Strayed and adapted by Nia Vardalos, writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

This play is based on Strayed’s experience working as an unpaid advice columnist, answering anonymous letters sent to Dear Sugar. Strayed not only provides advice to others, but she also opens up about her own life experiences, some funny, some happy and some very dark.

*Note that some sensitive content, including miscarriage, child abuse and sexual assault. It is a roller coaster of emotions, which came as no surprise as small packets of tissues are handed out as you come in.

In addition to the dark themes in the play, there is plenty of fun to bring you back from the lows of the heavier content. In the end, you’ll feel that Sugar not only provides help to some desperately in need, but she also finds her closure and peace.

The Valley Center Stage cast of this production is brilliant and earned a standing ovation on opening night. Jen Anderson, as Sugar, is convincing as an average everyday mom and as someone who has lived through Strayed’s complicated past. At the end of the show, you want to hug her and then hang out and talk about life.

The letter writers, played by Peter Cook, René Schuchter, and Robin Walbeck-Forrest, flow from one character to the next, portraying each uniquely and convincingly. Robin Walbeck-Forrest’s portrayal as a mother who experiences a profound loss is gut-wrenching.

Peter Cook’s portrayal of a repeat writer who asks the same question about all topics is hilarious. René Schuchter’s portrayal of a lonely teen, who turns to stealing, is touching. These are just some of the great characters presented by the trio.

Tiny Beautiful Things is relatable and understandable, filled with sorrow but at the same time uplifting. It is powerfully acted and beautifully directed by Wanda Boe with an assist from Melissa Carter, who also serves as stage manager for the production. The show runs from February 18th until March 5th.

Tickets start at $14 and can be purchased here.

Valley residents can look forward to future productions of The Foreigner and The Tempest. They also have a stage reading series (Staged readings are one night and the actors are reading from a script), and the next two readings are Jack and Jill and Denial.

Photo credit:
Rosalind Chaffee

LOCATION: Sallal Grange, 1060 Stilson Ave SE, North Bend WA
CONTACT: PO Box 701, North Bend WA 98045 | +1 (425) 200.8936 |

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    1. Hello Joan –
      The times of the show are: Thurs, Fri, Sat – 7:30pm; Sunday – 2pm. Please check the website for more info: Thank you!
      -Melissa Carter

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