Members say: Intense, Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Thought-provoking

About the show

The Vineyard Theatre presents the NY premiere of this haunting musical about the reemergence of a missing teenager by Tony-winning composer John Kander ('Cabaret,' 'Chicago') and lyricist/playwright Greg Pierce.

... Read more

Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance. Directed by Tony nominee Liesl Tommy and featuring Tony winner Karen Ziemba. This show contains mature and graphic content and may not be suitable for patrons under 15.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"A small, uneasily assembled production...The subject of 'Kid Victory' feels especially unpromising for any musical that doesn’t aspire to grim, grand (guignol) opera or creepy camp. And this definitely has other aspirations, toward a laudable but elusive psychology delicacy...Mr. Kander mines a number of musical veins, including the jaunty jazz and vaudeville pastiches for which he is best known, with results that are scattered, a bit bewilderingly, among the characters." Full Review


"This new musical employs Kander's instantly recognizable Broadway sound to tell a story that is contemporary, relevant, and brave. The result is the most exciting new musical of the season...Through his consistently lovely music, Kander conveys the discord between what should be and what is...Director Tommy smartly augments the emotional whiplash of the score with her clear and efficient staging...Flynn leads the cast with an unforgettably angst-ridden performance." Full Review


"As orchestrated by Starobin, much of his music offers a chamber quality that enhances the skin-crawling tone of director Tommy's sensitive and extremely well-acted production...Pierce shows himself to be a capable storyteller in his book and lyrics, but the musical suffers from being more about people's reactions to Luke rather than revealing more of Luke himself. Still, it's a daring subject choice for musicalization and there's enough good work to fascinate, if not completely satisfy." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The show manages to navigate its subject’s minefield of potential mortification. Much credit for that belongs to Brandon Flynn, the sensitive but never maudlin young actor...Kudos also go to librettist Greg Pierce and composer John Kander, who nimbly thread a narrow needle...The songs often seem truncated or extraneous. If 'Kid Victory' doesn’t embarrass itself a musical, neither does it offer, in the end, compelling reasons for being one." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A disjointed, tedious effort, which is hardly enhanced by Kander’s atypically underwhelming score...The storyline generally feels confusing, overly cluttered with incidents and minor characters that don’t add much to the overall impact...Under Liesl Tommy's direction, the acting is fine...But the performers’ efforts are undercut by a show that strains for emotional profundity and instead seems merely exploitative." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Greg Pierce and John Kander have done a very daring thing, building a musical around a character who can't express himself in song...Under Liesl Tommy's sure-handed direction, aided by Christopher Windom's choreography, the action moves across time and in and out of Luke's mind with the fluidity of a dream; she has also pulled together a first-rate cast of newcomers and old Broadway hands...Unusual and extraordinarily powerful musical." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Little about the show’s psychology feels likely or lived in, which makes it difficult to access the work emotionally, despite some simple, lovely melodies from Kander and their mournful, reed-heavy orchestrations...The director, Liesl Tommy, and the scenic designer, Clint Ramos, make one terrific choice, setting the whole of the show in Michael’s basement, suggesting that Luke’s escape is incomplete. But Tommy encourages most of the actors to exaggerate their assigned traits." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"'To the west of pain is a paradise.' It is an intriguing, provocative suggestion that may make theatergoers squirm, but it also invests the musical with an unusual compassion and psychological insight. 'Kid Victory' is aided by a universally impressive nine-member cast that director Liesl Tommy has assembled...Kander employs his arsenal of blues and hymns, ballads and dirges to tell a story that might work without any music, but stays with you all the more because of it." Full Review

Front Row Center

"The cast is superb. They are a perfect ensemble and carry out the task of handling this meandering material brilliantly. As the breadcrumb trail wanders, there are some seriously odd musical numbers...One gets the feeling that the ingredients of this tale were pulled off the shelf and used to fill the pot on the stove, rather than satisfy a palette. Too much blather and not enough specificity." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The work of 89-year-old John Kander...and Greg Pierce....dives into the dark waters of a teenager's sexual enslavement; the results, though, may not be as deep as the subject warrants...Despite its imaginative staging...the piece never fully coheres. It veers from being predominantly musical, with the dialogue in recitative mode, to long passages, especially one toward the end, without any music at all." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Kander and Pierce don't present a convincing case as to why this material needs to sing at all...It also doesn't help that Luke doesn't sing; this may successfully alienate him from those around him, but limits how far we're able to dig into who he is...Tommy's production is slick, fluidly staged as a swift-running stream of consciousness...Being not boring and being transformative are two very different things, however, and 'Kid Victory' does not come close to the latter." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The cast is first-rate...Brandon Flynn is a star and we totally follow him as he breaks our hearts with his disconnect...Kander’s score is hauntingly beautiful. The lyrics and the emotionality of this score capture this journey and it is like dropping down a rabbit hole. There are pieces of Mr. Pierce’s and Mr. Kander’s story that needed more...This show is not for everybody, but it is well done, speaks to issues that society would like to bury underneath a rug and does so with respect." Full Review

New York Daily News

"If that doesn’t sound like a story that naturally sings — and themes of religion and sexuality only add to that — the creators haven’t provided a persuasive case that it does. Despite a talented, hard-working cast, songs far too often stop the show dead in its tracks. 'Kid Victory' is a drama taken captive by pretty toe-tappers and romantic ballads that clash with the narrative." Full Review


"It’s a mess, and the disturbing subject is the least of the problems in this show...Kander’s music is beautiful and this amazing composer has been liberated, whether by change of partner or his own intellectual progression, into a more Sondheimian palette of tone and melody...Nothing else about 'Kid Victory' makes sense, unless one buys into the unsavory suggestion that sometimes Stockholm Syndrome is just another marker on the road to adulthood." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Nothing of the plot screams, write a song about this. And maybe that’s why it packs the punch that it does. It is by no means perfect, and there are difficulties of flow throughout, but it certainly is a captivating story...Skillfully directed by Liesl Tommy...Many of the other numbers vary in their successful integration with the story but all sound magnificent in structure and performance." Full Review


"While still short of the Kander and Ebb magic, 'Kid Victory' is an intriguing, psychologically complex story that's effectively staged by Liesl Tommy and well performed by the 9-member cast...Even though the flow from narrative dialogue into song and back again isn't always as organic as it should be, there are some lovely songs that I'd like to hear again...If I were putting together a must-see list of new musicals, it wouldn't place near the top, but I'm glad I saw it." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"The well-crafted choreography and the intriguing book, lyrics, and music counterpoint the heinous histories of Luke’s experiences in his home and his 'home away from home' on his captor’s island...The cast is uneven vocally but succeed overall in delivering their musical numbers...Liesl Tommy’s intricate and compassionate direction put Mr. Flynn’s Luke at the center of this story and assure that his cast works as hard as he does to make 'Kid Victory' the important piece of theatre it is." Full Review


"Following Kander and Pierce's first collaboration, the three part 'The Landing,' also seen in NYC at the Vineyard, their new show, 'Kid Victory,' is for minority tastes but will keep you riveted to your seat if you have the stomach for the strong content." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"To my surprise, I liked Greg Pierce’s book far more than John Kander’s music. In general, I did not think the music either heightened emotions or advanced the plot...The cast is uniformly strong and the story is consistently interesting. Liesl Tommy’s direction is mostly assured, but occasionally leaves characters doing nothing for long periods. I admire Kander and Pierce for taking on such a difficult subject, but am not sure that musicalizing it was the best approach." Full Review

The Wrap

"Kander, Pierce, and director Liesl Tommy are superb when they keep things simple...Kander is famous for giving his musicals a showbiz structure, but the razzle-dazzle here jars...Luke never sings in 'Kid Victory.' Are Pierce and Kander saying that his problems are beyond the limits of music? Or are they not up to the task? Less can be more, but with a subject this painfully big, you have to deliver more." Full Review


"A small, dark, tight chamber musical with thoughtful lyrics by Greg Pierce...It’s the religious community/Greek chorus, alas, that the creators and director Liesl Tommy encourage to surround Luke with oblivion, ignorance and zealous stereotypes...This isn’t a big commercial musical, but it takes on a radioactive subject without exploitation and finds some human music in it." Full Review


"A pleasing, wide-ranging musical score by the legendary John Kander and less satisfactory book and lyrics by Greg Pierce...Flynn makes Luke’s circumstance enormously affecting, but 'Kid Victory' doesn’t work very well as a musical...Numbers often seem tangential to the mood of the evening...Despite that, 'Kid Victory' offers a vivid portrait of a tortured soul." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“It isn't clear why the collaborators have decided to tell this tale or what they want it to say...The music is similarly ambiguous, failing to settle on a sound that captures the emotional experience of this show…Some of the new melodies are lovely...And Pierce's lyrics are fine, some of them quite clever. But none of it really commands the ear or lingers there…Still, the acting is strong and it's particularly nice to see such stage vets as Ziemba and Denman get a chance to shine once again.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"The story thinks it’s more mysterious than it is...But director Lisel Tommy is uncharacteristically on the nose...The musical also treats Michael, the captor, with a strange kind of empathy that feels icky. 'Kid Victory' is worth seeing for some tender moments with Flynn and his father, played by Daniel Jenkins...I’m left wondering why a musical, with precision blocking, tap dancing, and all the obviousness that comes with the genre, makes sense for this story." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This is a complicated story with a superior cast of actors. Brandon Flynn plays the tortured Lucas – his every emotion vividly alive and readable...The wonderfully talented Liesl Tommy directs this cast as if slowly and purposely pouring out a fine bottle of wine to be savored. There’s much more to say, but to reveal it would be to diminish an entire emotional journey you should not miss. Make sure you get a ticket to see 'Kid Victory.'" Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Excruciating

See it if you enjoy being CREEPED OUT!

Don't see it if if you DO NOT ENJOY being CREEPED OUT!!!!

Also Who thinks making a MUSICAL about a child abduction is a good idea? I ... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Needs more work, tuneful, well played and performed

See it if I think it might be gone now. This ambitious, not altogether successful musical, was worth seeing for an intriguing score and Karen Ziemba!

Don't see it if Hopefully the creators will put in more work on this serious show with great potential. I hope there will be a recording. The score was ++++

Thought-provoking, Disturbing, Entertaining, Muddled, Challenging

See it if challenging and controversial

Don't see it if uncomfortable of abuse

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if Powerful emotions, good singing, controversial material

Don't see it if you need a tidy ending, intergenerational sex freaks you out

Also An excellent show with a rather weak ending, but good enough so I didn... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if Looking beyond the conventional. Support ambitious young theater, created by a BWay legend,

Don't see it if Offended easily. Looking for the best of Kander - trademarks are there, but not as polished.

Intense, Entertaining, Engaging, Unexpected, Morose

See it if You want a non-traditional musical about darker themes that isn't afraid to look at the topic in a different light.

Don't see it if You're averse to the topic of abuse and looking at it from different angles. Or you're expecting a musical with full songs (most are 1 min).

Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy darker musicals, want to see some strong performances from a solid cast.

Don't see it if you want to see a show with a well developed plot. Get frustrated with plot holes or scenarios that may be highly unlikely.

Also I actually liked the show more than a lot of the people I know and/or ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you like the musicals of John Kander, can accept a dark story with both downbeat and upbeat music, are not put off by troubling scenes.

Don't see it if you want a happy tale where problems are resolved for all, are sensitive to dangers teens face on the Internet, don't like John Kander music

Funny, Dark, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a fan of Kander, like dark themes, LGBT issues, abduction stories.

Don't see it if You aren't a fan of gay/abduction stories or John Kander. Music feels disjointed from script. Great acting/singing but didn't flow properly.

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Profound, Great singing

See it if you enjoy edgier musicals with darker themes

Don't see it if you are disturbed by the idea of a musical exploring repression, religion etc in a small town

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Good acting, Good staging

See it if Kander & Pierce's brave attempt to musicalize sexual predator story engrosses despite weak score & book Actors work hard to flesh out roles

Don't see it if Despite chamber quality, more complexity needed to sustain story but Tommy's staging grounds work & Flynn and Denham are exceptionally good

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You are in the mood for a short Kander and Pierce musical of a coming of age story with a dark twist.

Don't see it if You are bothered by an empty nest story where the fledgling doesn't fly in th direction you imagined.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you are interested in what happens to a person after he is abducted.

Don't see it if you don't like scary, dark shows.

Also It's an interesting take on the difficulty of determining whether some... Read more Read less

Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You like incredibly well-written music and very strong performances, and won't mind if the piece still feels slightly unfinished.

Don't see it if You have difficulty with themes of abduction, coercion/rape, or suicide. You like your musicals uplifting and peppy.

Also An incredibly strong ensemble, both in terms of singing and acting, le... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Confusing

See it if you're a fan of John Kander or Karen Ziemba and game for experimental theatre—the alchemy of disturbing-tale-as-musical is unsettling.

Don't see it if you're looking for upbeat story or traditional musical format of interwoven songs (none listed in program) or are averse to disturbing plot.

Also I'm a member (and fan) of the Vineyard, but this production left me wo... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Great staging, Terrifying

See it if You are a fan of the horror genre. You enjoy shows in which the hero is shown in horrific circumstances. Stockholm Syndrome is of interest

Don't see it if Characters in frightening, dangerous or circumstances not of their choosing will upset you. You are looking for a traditional happy ending.

Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Dull

See it if you have trouble falling asleep. This is an effective sleeping pill.

Don't see it if you like coherent, logical, touching stories about families and young people. This one is off the charts.

Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like quirky small-scale musicals. The young lead is excellent and the show is quite absorbing and disturbing. Kandor's music is lovely.

Don't see it if you are looking for a really outstanding show. The lyrics are often banal lists of nouns. The use of the chorus is distracting. Doesn't work

Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if you're a fan of John Kander's and have to see all of his works.

Don't see it if you're turned off by abduction stories or music that is disconnected from the book (I thought I was watching two different shows).

Also With the exception of the terrific lead, the performances were lacklus... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Slow, Great singing

See it if you like pensive, nontraditional musicals that dive deep into the psyche of one character

Don't see it if you want well-rounded, non-stereotypical secondary characters or need shows to have momentum and plot to be entertained

Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great singing

See it if You like Kander's melodic music, superb singing, and a complex group of characters.

Don't see it if You don't like dark themes with some unlikable characters. You can't deal with brutality.

Funny, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if want to experience classic Kander, excellent acting, & an interesting story.

Don't see it if you want a big production.

Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting

See it if daring look at teen abduction & abuse by internet sexual predators suits U. The boy is rescued & returns home. But there's no easy happy end

Don't see it if U want a linear plot or if sex abuse & religion don't work for U as a musical. I found the music too traditional to fit the subject.

Also Kid Victory is a difficult show to sum up in a few characters. The top... Read more Read less

Banal, Excruciating, Cliched, Insipid, Hilarious

See it if You like the musical parodies on South Park. I kept imagining it with Cartman in the lead

Don't see it if You have anything else to do

Also Great cast, unbelievable book and characters, cruddy lyrics, music sou... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You are ready for a dark musical about a serious topic that appears on L&O SVU, but often happens in the gay-cyber-underground.

Don't see it if You dislike homosexuality; Are very religious; Get offended by Midwest parodies; Expect a big musical w/choreography.

Also Parents who watch this show should leave with a need to decide the que... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (18)