New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Vivian's Music, 1969

From 6 critic and 8 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Relevant, Absorbing, Great writing, Must see

About the show

Inspired by real events, this fantasia for two actors imagines life of the unknown 14-year-old black girl whose death at the hands of a white cop that ignited one of the worst race riots in American history. More…

In 1969, in a segregated city in the American Midwest bursting with racial tension, 14 year-old Vivian was shot by a white cop, sparking a brutal race riot. No one knew anything about her: just her name, her age, and how she died. "Vivian's Music, 1969" imagines Vivian a life, a family, a love of music, and a reason to live; the jazz legend who's back in the neighborhood might be her real father. Can they find each other before the city explodes?


“A two-hander that tells a compelling story about the struggle of African Americans living in the segregated Midwest in the late '60's...King as Vivian and Jordan as Luigi master their respective roles...The two actors' performances couldn't be better...’Vivian's Music 1969’ is depicts moments that are heartrending, insightful and at times, very humorous. Monica Bauer's superbly written play paints a vivid picture that is absolutely enthralling.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“The play's last five minutes, when Bauer tries to bring it all together, aren't as believable as everything that has come before. But both Vivian and Luigi cast a spell....The handling of the actors -- new faces both, and well worth seeking out in the future -- by the director, Kadigan, is exemplary...As it hurtles toward its tragic climax, ‘Vivian's Music’ is a saddening reminder that the more people assert that a change is gonna come, the more things sometimes stay the same - dispiritingly... Full Review

Plays to See

"The monologues wander pleasantly, seeming aimless at first, but soon the pieces for the devastating conclusion are all aligned. Although some of the writing is too broad, flirting with clichés, and some of the themes are clumsily telegraphed or treated without enough complexity, both actors overcome this...with nuance and conviction...The production achieves lyrical beauty and emotional power, addressing a historical incident that remains all too relevant today.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“The monologues and the impressions start out somewhat driftlessly, but Bauer’s writing, and the two central performances, quickly tighten and strengthen...Bauer sometimes also misses out on seizing the opportunities for richer nuance in making these figures’ monologuing voices sharper...Still, even if the edges are a little ragged, the center of ‘Vivian’s Music, 1969' quivers with well-earned and devastatingly all-too-familiar heartbreak." Full Review

Edinburgh Festivals

for a previous production "Monica Bauer's script is astonishing: whether relating the tragic death that motivates the almost optimistic finale – resilience and hope maintain a shaky hold on the jazz drummer-turned-social entrepreneur – or describing the magic of a band jamming together, it doesn't need anything more than the fluid performances of Russell Jordan and Kailah S King to impress." Full Review

Mind The Blog

for a previous production "Playwright Monica Bauer has created an intriguing and compelling production, beginning with two seemingly unlinked stories (alternating the storyteller) and as time goes on you can feel the plots begin to converge...Glory Kadigan’s direction is slick and keeps up a good pace...A timely play about a period in modern history that may be unfamiliar to many, with dangerously pertinent themes – the performances are engaging and moving." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Must see

See it if very, very moving story based on a horrible act of racial violence almost 50 years ago told thru 2 separate monologues which converge

Don't see it if you need elaborate sets & props to convey a story, you don't want to tear up

Also The play indirectly shows that:1. Black women's lives also matter and ... Read more Read less

Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Moving, Tragic

See it if Two characters follow parallel hopeful stories that intersect in tragedy. Racism poisons the dreams of both black and white people.

Don't see it if You are not interested in a small intimate play with no set or props. You don't want more insight into the impact of prejudice.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Masterful, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you're interested in a beautiful, poetic, sharp, sparse, detailed, heartfelt story that proves theater only needs words & hearts.

Don't see it if you need huge production values, are not in the mood to be told a story. But there's really no reason not to see this - affecting & moving.

Exquisite, Great staging, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you want sensitive telling of a tender story with fine acting and a spine of our country's shameful history of race relations.

Don't see it if you want a typical drama with direct confrontation of characters and a set.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Relevant

See it if enjoy great writing and simple, honest staging. Direct address w no set. It’s like a play told in memory - excellent & strong acting

Don't see it if’re looking for flashy scenery, fun fluffy story, or simple entertainment as this is heartfelt and thought-provoking. I’ve seen it 2x!

Entertaining, Great acting, Slow, Play about people of color written and directed by white women

See it if you aren't familiar with the origins of the Black Panther movement. Great acting and compelling, well-fleshed out characters.

Don't see it if you're looking for a light-hearted night of theatre. Some violence referenced.

Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if Masterful performance with riveting storytelling and insightful/provocative situations are something you want to challenge you.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a musical.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Must see

See it if You like a well written, relevant, fast-paced story with powerhouse acting.

Don't see it if You require spectacle and razzle-dazzle to enjoy a show.

Cast & Creatives (5)