Fans of Alicia Keys, the Public Theater, and New York City more generally, rejoice: The opening night of Hell’s Kitchen—a new musical directed by Michael Greif, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz and music and lyrics by Keys—finally arrives this weekend. (Needless to say, the anticipation for this show has been high: Since it was announced last June, Hell’s Kitchen has extended its run not once, not twice, but now a third time, to January 14.)
Ahead of that, however, we have your first look at the dazzling production, with scenic design by Robert Brill (Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations) and costumes by Dede Ayite (Days of Wine and Roses, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Topdog/Underdog, Slave Play). One also gets a sense of its vibrant choreography, by Camille A. Brown.
Very loosely based on Keys’s early life in Manhattan, Hell’s Kitchen follows a 17-year-old girl, Ali (newcomer Maleah Joi Moon), as she navigates life at home with her single mother, Jersey (Shoshana Bean); a burgeoning romance with an older boy, Knuck (Chris Lee); and a growing passion for music, informed by a piano teacher in her apartment complex named Miss Liza Jane (Kecia Lewis). The grit and creativity of Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood just west of the Theater District where Keys grew up, sets the scene, while some of her best-loved songs (and several brand-new compositions) make up the score.
“Part of what makes Alicia such a great artist is that she has never forgotten where she came from,” writes Oskar Eustis, the Public’s longtime artistic director, in the show’s Playbill. “We need Hell’s Kitchen right now. It is a love song to New York City, a reminder of what we love about our city, a reminder of what is possible when New York is working the way it should.” Let that be your prompt to snatch up tickets while you can—they’ve been going fast—but in the meanwhile, see Joan Marcus’s photographs from the production below.