By Sandi Durell
If it’s John Kander, it’s dramatic and dark with an edge and a wink. Mr. Kander has found his alter ego in Greg Pierce as they collaborate on their second musical Kid Victory (the first, The Landing). What secrets lie behind the tortured soul of young 17 year old Lucas who disappeared for many months from his Kansas home and then reappeared one day, back in the nest of his God fearing, religious family – an over zealous, orchestrating Baptist mother who only wants her Lukey to do it her way, and a much more sympathetic father.
Lucas had spent many hours secreted in his bedroom on his computer playing Regatta 500, a boat racing game where other enthusiasts meet, chat and race virtually. Lucas’ handle is Kid Victory – he is young, susceptible and struggling with identity issues he can’t explain or express. In the flashbacks (and there are many), we are introduced to Michael, whose handle is Yachticus Nine, the virtual friend at whose hand Lucas will suffer.
The scenes are a compilation of a reappearing Greek chorus who tell the story in the here and now peppered with continuous unfolding flashbacks and dream sequences that give rise to Lucas’ tragic disappearance. Lucas is trying desperately to hold on to his own sanity and find himself. In order to accomplish this, he must shed the boundaries of the life and family in which he grew up. And so, instead of returning to school, as his intolerably controlling mother wishes, he takes a job at Emily’s Wicker Witch of the West – a garden shop – bird houses and vines, where Lucas helps out building birdhouses with steeples. Emily is a kindred spirit to whom he can relate.
This is a complicated story with a superior cast of actors. Brandon Flynn plays the tortured Lucas – his every emotion vividly alive and readable. Karen Ziemba (always a joy to watch) is Eileen, an all too loving mother, unable to fathom the realities. Dee Roscioli is the perfect open-hearted, straight talking hippie Emily. Daniel Jenkins plays Joseph, the father, hurt yet trying to be supportive and understanding. A superb Jeffry Denman brings a new revelation to the evil and wicked Michael, an isolated teacher, who snatches Lucas committing unthinkable acts.
The music is a mix of varying styles (Music John Kander, Book and Lyrics Greg Pierce, story by Kander and Pierce) but that Kander & Ebb Broadway style rises up noticeably now with Greg Pierce’ collaboration in a song and dance dream sequence wonderfully portrayed by Blake Zolfo “What’s The Point?” (choreography Christopher Windom) Dee Roscioli gets her turn admirably in “I’ll Marry The Man” and “People Like Us.” And the tearful “Where We Are” sung by Daniel Jenkins doesn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
The cast is rounded out by Ann Arvia who plays an amateur therapist trying to get Lucas to open up; Joel Blum plays several roles including the Detective, and Laura Darrell is Suze, Lucas’ ex-girlfriend. Scenic design is by Clint Ramos and lighting by David Weiner. The wonderfully talented Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed) 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.
Photos: Carol Rosegg
The Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15 Street www.vineyardtheatre.org
The production runs 1 hr. 45 minutes without intermission, thru March 19