Alicia Keys Is On Fire With New Musical ‘Hell’s Kitchen’
Global superstar and 15-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys has brought her musical and artistic savvy to the theater with her play, Hell’s Kitchen. The musical is loosely based on Keys’ early life in the NY neighborhood.
Hell’s Kitchen, is a creative masterpiece that includes a talented team that brought the work to life — scenic design by Robert Brill, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Gareth Owens, hair and wig design by Mia Neal, and projection design by Peter Nigrini. In addition to the stunning visuals, Keys’ involvement in the production extends to the music as well, where she has featured new original music and lyrics.
“My favorite part about the music in this piece is that it really is seamless, and really helps push the story along. It helps you to feel the emotion, and the reason why the story is where it is,” Keys tells ESSENCE. “It gives new meaning to the music. There are so many new songs that were written for this play. You really connected to the music in a way that I don’t think has ever happened before. You get to feel it, learn it, see it, experience it in a whole new way.”
The play explores identity, belonging, and the challenges faced by young people as they navigate the complexities of life and love, against the backdrop of New York City. The narrative revolves around 17-year-old Ali, portrayed in the cramped apartments hanging off the side of Times Square. Ali’s desire to achieve her New York dream clashes with her mother’s protective instincts, leading to a poignant exploration of race, defiance, and the challenges of growing up in the bustling city.
Behind the scenes for Hell’s Kitchen at Public Theater
Ali’s world takes an unexpected turn when she falls for a talented young drummer. The ensuing drama forces both mother and daughter to confront harsh truths about life in Hell’s Kitchen. However, the musical promises a silver lining as the sound of a neighbor playing the piano opens the door to an unexpected friendship, offering Ali a chance at a radically different future.
Keys is joined by Pulitzer Prize-finalist playwright Kristoffer Diaz, who brought the coming of age story to the stage. Choreography for Hell’s Kitchen was done by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown and direction by the renowned musical theater giant Michael Greif, known for his work on hits like Rent, Next to Normal, and Dear Evan Hansen, adds an extra layer of excitement to the production.
The cast and crew for Hell’s Kitchen.
Hell’s Kitchen is over a decade in the making, and something Keys’ is proud to bring to life. The musical has key touchpoints that call back to Keys early life, like visiting Broadway shows with her mother. “It’s a very powerful memory for me and creatively, Hell’s Kitchen is an ode to that experience, and my mother’s experience, the New York City experience,” Keys says.
Though producing a musical is a pivot away from her usual, Keys’ venture into theater with Hell’s Kitchen shows her willingness to explore new avenues of storytelling. “It’s a new way to create, and a new medium for me, but it’s not new in my love for it, or my experience as a fan of it. To be able to bring all of that together and create it in a modern way, in a way that really tells the story of New York, particularly in the 90s, it feels really good.”
Hell’s Kitchen made its world premiere in a sold-out run—October 24, 2023 through January 14, 2024, including a five-week extension, at New York’s Public Theater, and will soon transition to the stage at Shubert Theater, marking the off-Broadway play’s official Broadway debut.
Oskar Eustis, Public Theater’s artistic director says he’s “thrilled to have it arriving at the Shubert Theater,” and calls the musical a “quintessential New York story.”
“I’m honored to be a part of this Broadway season with so much incredible talent and great stories. I grew up with musical theater and have so many memories of standing on line at TKTS to see shows like Miss Saigon and Rent,” Keys said in a release. “For me, Hell’s Kitchen is also a New York story of finding your dreams and for me, this musical coming to Broadway is the embodiment of that idea.”
Hell’s Kitchen is currently sold-out at Public Theater. The first preview of Hell’s Kitchen set for Thursday, March 28, 2024 and opening night is Saturday, April 20, 2024 at Broadway’s Shubert Theater (225 West 44th Street.). The pre-sale begins at 10:00AM ET on Friday, December 8.
Tickets will go on-sale to the general public on Monday, December 11 at 12:00PM ET at HellsKitchen.com and Telecharge.com.
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