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Kid Victory
Gramercy
74

Kid Victory NYC Reviews and Tickets

74%
(176 Reviews)
Positive
72%
Mixed
21%
Negative
7%
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.

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Member Reviews (176)

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83
Great music, So so lyrics, Schocking, Thought-provoking, Moving

See it if Great acting. Shocking dark theme. Multifaceted plot. Sad and claustrophobic as it should be.

Don't see it if Theme is not for everyone's sensibilities. But it is treated respectfully and intensely. The lyrics are not up to the level of the music Read more

78
Ambitious, Good staging, Intense, Thought-provoking, Good acting

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

Critic Reviews (37)

February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 24th, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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March 6th, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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.'"
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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T
February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 27th, 2017

"'Kid Victory' is not easy to watch. That’s not always a bad thing, but it makes for an uneven exploration of difficult subject matter that hits more dissonant chords than likely intended...Flynn...is tasked with carrying the emotional weight of 'Kid Victory'...It’s a sweet and vulnerable performance...Kander’s score has a few melodic highlights...Director Liesl Tommy does little to bring cohesion to 'Kid Victory,' which suffers from an identity crisis that rivals its lead character."
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February 23rd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"'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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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B
February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 25th, 2017

“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.”
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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February 22nd, 2017

"A harrowing coming-of-age musical that is difficult to watch, but too relevant not to...Director Liesl Tommy seamlessly interweaves present-time scenes of Luke’s emotional struggle and social interactions with split-second transitions into surreal sequences in his mind and hallucinatory recollections of the past...Would 'Kid Victory' work as well or better as a straight drama than a musical? Either way, the production tells a crucial must-see story, the likes of which happen too often."
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February 22nd, 2017

"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."
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March 13th, 2017

"A powerful, ambitious and disturbing new musical...It is a story as gripping in emotion as in psychological insight...Having no intermission works smoothly for this here-and-then emotional flow...Ziemba is a standout with her demanding assurance and Jenkins seems hesitant around the boy...It is Flynn and Denman who grasp the audience's attention...Kudos to Kander who, at age 90, still stands strong in American musical theater, exploring today's world with aspiration and creativity."
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M
March 7th, 2017

“An affecting coming-of-age tale…A show whose moods are sometimes uncertain and even jarring…The story holds together thanks in large part to the fluid staging of Liesl Tommy and a top-notch nine-person cast…Truly elevating the entire proceedings is Kander’s music. He has composed a bountiful score, filled with lustrous settings for Pierce’s persuasive lyrics...It has its occasional bumps, but all in all, 'Kid Victory' is a senior triumph for Kander and colleagues."
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February 22nd, 2017

"A major achievement...Under Tommy’s direction, the material drifts back and forth from the present to the past, sometimes simultaneously, and this is no mean achievement...Flynn's performance is flawless and covers great range. He is very important to the success of this small but powerfully effective piece of stagecraft...The rest of the small company bring specific qualities to the other characters; and, as this is a very strong and specific play, they are all essential to its success."
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February 25th, 2017

"'Kid Victory' may be one of the best/most harrowing musicals to hit off Broadway...Brandon Flynn is riveting as Luke...Heavy themes are eased by the gorgeous book and lyrics by Greg Pierce, whose songs felt tinged with hope even when a character is singing at their most broken...'Kid Victory' is a victory. Liesl Tommy has directed a play that both punches and holds your heart with sentiment."
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February 26th, 2017

"Kander’s music seems out of place here. It works, but just barely, mostly because Pierce’s lyrics integrate with book (he wrote both) and because of an expert cast...Keep an eye on Brandon Flynn. He anchors 'Kid Victory' from beginning to end...To her credit, director Liesl Tommy confidently eschews anything flashy directorially, so the play remains story-driven...Seldom (ever?) has a story like 'Kid Victory' been sung about before."
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Z
March 15th, 2017

"The show is deeply unsettling, but strangely not because of the subject matter. Rather the uneasiness comes from the regrettable juxtaposition of heartrending drama and jaunty production numbers...Kander’s music is lovely, except that his style here is totally at odds with the tone of the show...It seems as though Tommy didn’t quite know what to do with the musical material, although she does a fine job with the dramatic scenes...The cast of 'Kid Victory' is impressive from end to end."
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March 4th, 2017

"This is a powerful play and, at times, it’s also a powerful musical play...This is not the type of show that you leave singing the songs, although there are some very effective musical moments...Brandon Flynn gives a perfect performance as Luke...Daniel Jenkins does an effective job portraying the underdeveloped father...This is a thoughtful and moving production that is worth the visit, if intense musical drama appeals to you."
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February 23rd, 2017

"While the score of any show is there to propel the story along, here it actually pulls down the very strong book...So much of Kander’s music is tuneless except for a zippy though ill conceived tap dancing number. And although Pierce’s lyrics fare better even they add little to the storyline...Despite the well crafted performances and Liesl Tommy’s sympathetic direction, the show stumbles at almost every juncture once the musical numbers stalls the storyline."
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March 12th, 2017

"Kander’s music is, as always, highly attractive. He’s not exploring any new territory (for him) in terms of vocabulary, but he is using his familiar tool kit in more experimental song forms. Greg Pierce’s book is clean, uncluttered, his characters clear, his dialogue polished and economical; and the lyrics are likewise craftsmanlike and to the point. As is the direction by Leisl Tommy...I don’t know if 'Kid Victory' is something you’ll find satisfying. You may well, though, find it worthwhile."
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T
February 27th, 2017

"Kander has not lost his touch; this show is filled with songs that reflect the range of emotions and situations. The lyrics by Pierce help us know the characters. I’d love a recording of the show...Brandon Flynn is terrific as the teenage Luke...Jeffry Denman is outstanding as Michael...The rest of the cast is equally good...Liesl Tommy has directed the show with a sure hand, never overdoing either the terror or the pathos...I walked out moved, disturbed and yet strangely optimistic."
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