The Bully's music and lyrics (John Gregor) are clever and engaging, with one or two songs audiences are sure to be humming when they leave the theatre. David L. Williams's book is strong -- it complements the music and lyrics, and the language rings true.
Byrne Harrison, The Off Off Broadway Review
While many school bullies rule through fear and intimidation, all too often they are just as insecure as the people they terrorize, as explained in Vital Children's Theatre's very enjoyable new musical The Bully. ... While the major theme of the musical is pretty straightforward (don't be a bully), there are many deeper messages underneath. Chief of which is just how insecure grade school kids can be... Another important point explored is that everyone can be a bully without even realizing it... All of this information (and a lot more besides) is nicely packed into this multi-song, 55-minute work. David Williams has written a strong and intelligent book, and one which never talks down to the audience. The music by John Gregor is very enjoyable and the lyrics (also by Gregor) ... work quite well. ... The Bully is a nicely conceived production - and one which can be enjoyed by both children and their parents.
Judd Hollander, The Off Off Broadway Review
Vital Theatre Company's The Bully, a critically acclaimed musical for young audiences that humorously and thoughtfully tackles the bullying epidemic, is a show too wonderful to ignore...
somehow, in less than an hour this clever show manages not only to hold a mirror up to all of them, but to also offer ways to deal with, and even fix, the situations that arise. It allows the conversation between parents, children, and teachers to start, contends (director Linda Ames) Key...
this is a super-high-voltage show with upbeat musical numbers featuring a lot of choreography tapping into cheerleading and gym activities...
"It is one of my favorite projects", Key says. "It resonates with theatergoers, and their reaction has been incredibly positive. Plus we get feedback from the audience that we incorporate into the script. But what pleases me most is how much this show provides an opening for kids and parents to have non-threatening conversations about bullying"
Griffin Miller, NYMetroParents
Recommended for young audiences, David L. Williams and John Gregor's peppy musical confection originally added to Vital Theatre Company's repertoire in 2005 tells the endearing story of Lenny and Steve, a nerd and a bully who must learn to work together when they get picked on for being the new kids at a new school. The message is clear: Bullying is bad news, especially when it stems from one's own insecurities.
Brandon Voss, Advocate.com
The book by David L. Williams speaks successfully to kids without talking down to them.
Bryan Clark, Show Business Weekly
Considering its dire and all-too-real consequences, bullying ought to be on all our radars. What's great about Vital Theatre Company's musical , which debuted in 2005, is that it eschews easy dichotomies, focusing instead on the decidedly gray areas between bully and victim, onlooker and participant in such a way that everyone in the audience learns a thing or two about it and recognizes in himself the human tendency to indulge in behavior that can hurt others...
Kept to a kid-perfect 60 minutes, the production's pacing and tone will appeal equally to younger kids, who will eat up the catchy music and humor, and their older counterparts, who are bound to connect to their fictional peers' plights with a compassion bred from experience. Once again, Vital triumphs with a production that speaks to kids on their own terms about a subject that really truly matters.
Lee Magill, Time Out new York Kids
WHO’S THE BULLY NOW?
Review by Laurel Graeber
You might expect a children's theatrical production called "The Bully" to be a little, well, bullying: a heavy moral lesson that hits its young audiences over the head.
Refreshingly, that description does not apply to Vital Children's Theater's new hourlong musical. With a peppy score and lyrics by John Gregor and an insightful book by David L. Williams, "The Bully" recognizes that bullies and bullying take many forms. With a sense of humor as well as a sense of mission, it explores its highly topical subject through sixth-grade characters who are human beings rather than black-and-white symbols.
The plot centers on Lenny (Brian Charles Rooney), smart and small, and his hulking nemesis, Steve (Miron Gusso), who delights in pushing Lenny around. But things change when the two accidentally get on the wrong bus and are sent to a school where they are mistaken for new students and told to watch out for Mega, the local big cheese. Imagine their astonishment when Mega turns out to be Megan (Laura Binstock), who clearly takes her cues from repeated viewings of "Mean Girls." Sly, smiling and utterly vicious, she takes bullying to a level where even Steve can't compete.
The presence of a common enemy alters the dynamic between Steve, who has vulnerabilities of his own, and Lenny, who is revealed to have been a tattletale and a know-it-all. I won't give away more, except to say that the conclusion is hilarious, witty and even moving. "The Bully," like the best kind of teacher, nudges children toward the truth and then lets them discover it on their own.
"in the case of this new children's musical, phrases like "utterly charming" and "totally adorable" really do apply, in the best possible way...Brisk, clever, and sunny, The Bully is ultimately the type of entertaining educational musical for which it's easy to envision a life of touring schools across the country.
Mark Peikert, Backstage