Review: Tiny Father, a story that reveals how love grows, at the Geffen Playhouse

Tiffany Villarin and Maurice Williams in tiny father at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

 TINY FATHER is a potent story about a big surprise— unexpected parenthood. It is excellent at exploring all the emotions, subtly and authentically, as a reluctant young man sheds his carefree life. He discovers that his moral compass leads to a tiny baby he never expected would take over his life. And love grows along with his responsibilities.

  Both stars of the 90 minute production are exceptional. Maurice Williams is compelling as the new dad Daniel, and Tiffany Villarin is formidable as Caroline the no-nonsense night nurse. They elevate their own journey of growth as evenly matched advocates for his fragile baby girl Sophia.

Tiffany Villarin and Maurice Williams in tiny father at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Photo by Jeff Lorch

  Tiny Father is having its West Coast premiere at The Geffen Playhouse Gil Cates Theater June 12 through July 14, 2024. Playwright Mike Lew (Teenage Dick and Tiger Style!), and director Mortiz von Stuelpnagel (Ava: The Secret Conversations) have infused the show with surprisingly funny moments and a lot of tenderness. That helps deal with the heartache and drama that Daniel and Caroline go through in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the story takes place.

L-R: Artistic Director Tarell Alvin McCraney, playwright Mike Lew, Tiffany Villarin, Maurice Williams, director Moritz von Stuelpnagel, and executive director/CEO Gil Cates, Jr. at the June 20, 2024 Opening Night of tiny father at Geffen Playhouse. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Photo by Dana Pleasant/Jordan Strauss Photography

Daniel was happy with his “friends with benefits” relationship until his co-worker’s pregnancy. Although the mother wanted to be a single parent, her death shortly after childbirth, more than three months before term, leaves Daniel with responsibilities he never imagined. He exhibits fear and joy as he observes the extreme preemie through the isolette.

At its core, Tiny Father is about how loves grows when you care so much, and Maurice Williams magnificently transforms Daniel into a proud loving ‘papa’ during the course of the show.

 Anyone who has spent time in a hospital with a loved one, especially in the ICU, will feel that the relationship between Caroline and Daniel rings true. Tiffany Villarin is superbly stoic as Caroline, with the tough job of helping Daniel navigate hospital protocols and setbacks, and never letting her character get unprofessional. As conflicts occur between Daniel and Caroline, some simple truths about our health care system come to light that we are left to ponder.

On stage the sterile hospital environment is believable thanks to the revolving NICU set created by scenic designer David Meyer. Pablo Santiago’s impressive lighting design also deserves recognition.

 Tiny Father is now playing through July 14, 2024, in the Gil Cates Theater at The Geffen Playhouse, located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue in Westwood, California. For tickets call 310-208-2028 or online at

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.