“There are no rules anymore,” Nia Vardalos says. “Now it just feels like people are thinking, ‘What’s important? Let’s get food into front line workers’ mouths.”
The last two months have seen the old ways of doing things in entertainment thrown out the window. A year ago, how could we have known that some of the biggest stars in the world would be game to drink booze in a fluffy white robe on the Internet? That some of our favorite television casts would all beam in from their respective homes for must-see reunions? Or that shows we might have missed out on during their New York City runs could return, thanks to the twice-daily series Stars in the House?
Vardalos herself is spearheading a reunion of the 2017 Off-Broadway run of Tiny Beautiful Things, her adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s collected advice columns. After she tweeted about an upcoming episode of Stars in the House, co-creator and co-host (with James Wesley) Seth Rudetsky reached out and asked her about getting the Tiny Beautiful Things gang back together. A text message to the cast later, and it was done and scheduled for 2 PM ET, May 6. No rules, remember?
“First I asked Tommy [Kail, the director] and Cheryl, and they immediately said yes,” Vardalos says. “And the cast, I just sent the text and they said, ‘Yes, please.’”
As much a reunion for them as for the audience, the performers—Vardalos, Teddy Cañez, Ceci Fernandez, DeLance Minefee, Hubert Point-Du Jour, and Natalie Woolams-Torres—have found solace and comfort in their regular Zoom rehearsals.
“We have been rehearsing on our own, which is a dangerous game because we’re childish actors so we can make anything dirty,” Vardalos says, laughing. “So that’s been fun, to dissolve into laughs. But for the most part we’ve been mind-bendingly professional in our rehearsals! It’s been therapy for us to do it. Like a salve for our shredded souls.”
They also take seriously the push to raise money for The Actors Fund. “We’re all working actors,” Vardalos points out. “At some point, everyone has had to reach out. I reached out to Actors’ Equity, and Equity paid my month’s rent in 1997. And I love that the Actors Fund doesn’t just help actors. As we know, it takes a village to put on a show. We’ve been helped, so this is an opportunity to do something to be useful. The best thing we can all tap into in this pandemic: How can I be useful?”
And while self-isolation remains in place, Vardalos has a few other ideas about how to give back involving her 2004 film Connie and Carla, about two female showbiz wannabes who hide from the mafia in disguise as drag queens: “As an appeal to producers: I want to write the Connie and Carla musical for Broadway,” she says. “There should be a drag show on Broadway at all times, or we have failed the community!”
Watch the cast of Tiny Beautiful Things reunite on Stars in the House's YouTube channel at 2 PM ET, May 6. The stream will remain available until 2 PM ET, May 10.