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The Butcher's Son

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Book, Music & Lyrics by Vi Nhan H. Tran

Elevator pitch: THE BUTCHER'S SON weaves a thrilling Vietnamese refugee story into an All-American tale of how family stories become family lore and where one family's search for a home ends.

Synopsis: Born in Vietnam and raised in southwestern Kansas, Vi Nhan H. Tran is torn between the mysterious secrets of his heritage and the waving wheat fields of his adopted home.


A poignant and humorous folk musical memoir, THE BUTCHER'S SON chronicles the Tran family’s escape from Vietnam, imprisonment by the Khmer Rouge, and resettlement in the cattle country of America. Tran weaves a thrilling refugee story into an All-American tale of how family stories become family lore and where one family's search for a home ends.

Great if you like: Fans of VIETGONE, ONCE, and THE LION will fall in love with THE BUTCHER'S SON!

Content advisory: none

Performance times:

Saturday, 2/10 at 3pm

Wednesday, 2/14 at 8pm

Sunday, 2/18 at 6pm

Friday. 2/23 at 7:30pm


Creative Team

Vi Tran is a storyteller, actor, singer-songwriter, and composer/lyricist/book writer of The Butcher’s Son, an autobiographical refugee story and folk musical memoir.


Born in the shadow of Sai Gon, Vietnam and raised in southwestern Kansas, Tran considers himself equal parts sea salt and wheat fields. He began performing as a toddler in the refugee camps of southeast Asia. Other refugees took pity on the young (and literally starving) artist, giving him what food they could spare.


As a solo artist and leader of the Vi Tran Band, Tran has provided opening support for legendary rock band Kansas at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita, KS, and is a regular performer for  the VIP Club at Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO, before an eclectic list of acts including Arcade Fire, Ray LaMontagne, Beck, Willie Nelson, Weezer, Panic! At The Disco, Counting Crows, and Rob Thomas.


Tran is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and has been a Kansas City-based theatrical artist for over a decade, though his travels have taken him to Chicago (Ensemble/The Engineer u/s for Paramount Theatre’s Miss Saigon; director of Will The Circle at CMTF), Memphis, and the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington D.C.


His autobiographical folk musical The Butcher’s Son was the recipient of ArtKC’s Inspiration Grant and the Kansas Creative Industry Commission’s Strategic Investment Grant, in conjunction with the NEA’s ArtWorks program, and toured regionally in Kansas as part of the self-produced Forty Years Fallen: Touring Performing Memoir and Remembrance Exhibit, honoring Vietnam war refugees and veterans in conjunction with performances of The Butcher’s Son musical. Tran was also the recipient of an additional ArtsKC Inspiration Grant to continue future development of The Butcher’s Son as a full production participant of Underscore Theatre Company’s Chicago Musical Theatre Festival in 2018.


Tran’s original work has been described as earnest, intimate, and inspiring. His TED Talk, “The Empathetic Power of Storytelling,” details his method of using specificity in personal detail, relationships, and  family lore in order to invoke empathetic audience response, with the purpose of building bridges in an ever-divisive society, inviting dialogue and understanding, and inspiring hope and unity.

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