Vi Tran Expands His Creative Endeavors

The accomplished actor and singer tries more complicated roles both on and off the stage.

In essence, Vi Tran is equal parts sea salt and wheat fields. Born near Sai Gon, Vietnam and raised in southwestern Kansas, he began performing as a toddler in the refugee camps of Southeast Asia. He has grown into one of Kansas City’s hardest working, multi-talented artists.

An accomplished actor and singer-songwriter, Tran played the sleazy, charismatic hustler called The Engineer in Western Playhouse’s July production of Miss Saigon, a role made famous on Broadway by Tony Award winner Jonathan Pryce. Next, he headed to Minnesota over the summer for the Okoboji Theatre premiere of a new adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, written by Tran and his fiancée, Mackenzie Goodwin.

Musically, his style spans several genres. The autumn release of American Heroine follows his well-received 2010 solo acoustic EP, Goodbye, Summer, with a full-length symphonic rock, pop and Americana album. On the record, Tran’s enlists the talents of a string ensemble and Kansas City jazz favorites Mark Lowrey and Hermon Mehari. Tran describes the album of original songs as a “musical trade paperback novella” in homage to American master storytellers such as Hemingway, Steinbeck and Fitzgerald.

Next year, Tran will return to the stage in spring 2014 at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, following in the footsteps of another Tony-Award-winning actor, B.D. Wong, in a gender-bending performance as Chinese Opera star Song Liling in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly.