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New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Kid Victory

From 37 critic and 176 member reviews
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. 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.

2h 0m | Already closed | Vineyard Theatre (Gramercy)


"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

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

Diandra Reviews it All

"'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." 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

DC Metro Theater Arts

"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." Full Review

City Cabaret

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Two on the Aisle

"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." 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

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

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

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

DC Metro Theater Arts

"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." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“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." 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

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


"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


"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


"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'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


"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

Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"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." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"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." 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 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

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.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Powerful in the same way as evan hansen. bring a handkerchief.

See it if You like serious plays and musicals on difficult subjects.

Don't see it if You are easily offended or limit your theater-going scope.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if you like Kander's music which was terrific, interesting story about teenager finding himself after terrifying experience, very serious stuff

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with gay themes, with older man and younger boy, with some physical abuse.There is so much more to the story !

Also Plot takes twists and turns that are not expected which makes for rive... Read more Read less

Not a musical comedy but worth seeing

See it if Great Music and Orchestrations, Great Acting, Great Choreography, and a progression of a Composer's lifetime work...a compelling story.

Don't see it if You expect a Comedy, Chronological storytelling is demanded, You want a flashy show with a pretty set, a leading man singing his guts out.

Also I'd see this show again in a flash. It's not a typical musical, but it... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Edgy, Riveting, Great writing, Very dark

See it if you like musical theatre that will challenge you and leave you emotionally conflicted. This show is edgy, dark, and ultimately satisfying.

Don't see it if you dislike shows where the "bad guy" is portrayed with empathy, you don't like controversial subject matter, you don't like dark musicals.

Also The subject matter of the show left me with a pit in my stomach, and I... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great music:loved all of it

See it if You like wonderful acting and singing in a thought provoking production. See it if you want to be moved by a great script. Hell, just SEE IT

Don't see it if All you like is pizzazz. This is a small production about how we are trapped both intentionally and unintentionally. Not for prudes.

Great acting, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging, Heart-wrenching

See it if you see the beauty in dark, difficult material and if you love experiencing powerful performances in intimate spaces.

Don't see it if you are squeamish, unfeeling, or the subject matter hits too close to home.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great singing

See it if A combination of "Yen", "Dear Evan Hansen", and "The Humans", this thought-provoking musical is beautiful and gut-wrenching.

Don't see it if Very dark subject matter that's meant to be uncomfortable. However, the creators magnificently explore the gray area of the plot.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if deals with adolescence , family dynamics, father-son connections...

Don't see it if you are disturbed by the subject of gay relationships, teen-age angst.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you appreciate character-driven narrative and challenging subject matter. Also, if you are are a John Kander fan.

Don't see it if you expect a sunny musical with catchy songs and dance numbers. Also, if you're sensitive to the subject of child endangerment/abuse.

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Great singing

See it if want to see both Kander at his peak and a sad tale that has become so typical of today's world.

Don't see it if you are not up to dismaying scenes re: too often current problems. It is not a joyous musical. A new talent is born (non-singing role)

Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if See this before it closes. It is well written well staged and thought provoking in this day and age of the internet.

Don't see it if if you don't like uncomfortable material

Poignant, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Timely, Visceral

See it if you love Kander's music, love to see difficult subjects tackled on stage, want to feel genuine emotion again, are curious about Greg Pierce.

Don't see it if You're looking for a feel-good, good-time musical. This ain't it. If the subject of child abduction cuts too close to the bone for you.

Also I scored this higher than most of my compatriots for several reasons. ... Read more Read less

Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if You like dark, challenging theatre

Don't see it if You want something fun and excapist

Clever, Great acting, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You like musicals with a thought provoking story

Don't see it if If you are easily disturbed by dark musicals

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.

Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if Excellent off-Broadway musical with good singing and orchestration.

Don't see it if Looking for a funnny Broadway type musical

Enchanting, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Great singing

See it if You love the music of Kander especially his darker side. The cast is exceptional and the story is engaging and captivating

Don't see it if You want a traditional musical where the lead sings. Want a light and campy show

Also THe acting is amazing!!! If nothing else see it for that

Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you know what fujoshi means and love it

Don't see it if you get easily confused by ambiguous hints.

Also LOVE IT. Don't help me cuz I just love it, ok? Great acting from Brand... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if you want to see great acting. Brandon Flynn, the lead actor, will have a huge career.

Don't see it if you find it too hard to watch a predatory relationship or conflicted sexuality.

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

Dark, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Disturbing

See it if you like serious, heavy musicals; you're a fan of John Kander .

Don't see it if you don't want to see a musical dealing with the kidnapping of a teenager.

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

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).

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you like thoughtful looks at complex feelings instead of pat answers and superficial ideas

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with the dark places that people come from and go to.

Cast & Creatives (18)