Alicia Keys' coming-of-age musical 'Hell's Kitchen' comes to Broadway

Joelle Garguilo Image
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Alicia Keys' musical 'Hell's Kitchen' comes to Broadway
Joelle Garguilo has the story on Alicia Keys' musical that has been a decade in the making.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Grammy award-winning superstar Alicia Keys is bringing her music to Broadway.

The semi-autographical show is called "Hell's Kitchen." It stars Brandon Victor Dixon, Shoshana Bean, and newcomer Maleah Joi Moon, who just so happens to be one of the 16 emerging actors highlighted for Disney's Television Discovers: Talent Showcase in 2022.

After a run at the Public Theater, the show loosely inspired by Keys' upbringing comes to Broadway. The superstar is producing it and providing the soundtrack including the classics, lots of them, and some new music.

She's been working on this show for over a decade. To hear Keys tell it, "Hell's Kitchen" is a love letter to the city that made her a star.

Her whole life has been leading her to this moment. You know her music, but what about her story?

After turning out hits for the last two decades, she's sharing her story, or at least a version of it -- one made for the stage.

The musical is "Hell's Kitchen," named after the New York City neighborhood she grew up in.

"When we first began on this creative journey, I think we really were yearning to see the diversity of the people that we knew," Keys said. "You feel that New York energy, you feel that multigenerational multicultural experience."

Featuring the 16-time Grammy-award winner's music, the coming-of-age story centers on a 17-year-old girl chasing her dreams, and the relationship between herself and her mother.

"You know, my mother was raised in Toledo, Ohio, and she is the quintessential New York story. You know, she is the girl that escaped the small town to come to New York, to pursue her dream of acting and dancing," she said.

Shoshana Bean plays "Mama Keys" and the two have become best friends.

"We hit it off immediately. We talk to each other almost every day. I took her and Billy Crystal to see 'The Connector.' So, I was sitting with dad on one side and I called her mom. So, I was like this is a blended family. She's extraordinary," Bean said. "To me, she's the reason this project intrigued me in the first place. Like what was this woman who was an artist, actress, but sacrificed what she came here to do because it like took a turn. And, we have Alicia Keys because of that, so to me, that was always the most compelling story. And, I wanted to know who she was and how she did it by herself."

Bean said it has been great to sing Alicia Keys' music with Alicia Keys in the room.

"It's been great because I've never been granted this kind of freedom in a Broadway score on a Broadway stage," Bean said. "I think what was scarier to me than anything, was like, I'm playing her mother. I'm playing literally the most important person in her life up until probably she had children. So I just more wanted to get that right, the essence of that woman, the spirit of that woman, and really honor that."

For Maleah Joi Moon, it was a huge moment when she saw the show's marquee.

"Oh my gosh, all I could think about was my mom. She's an immigrant. She's from Belize. And the idea of her seeing her baby's face on a marquee must be crazy for her," Moon said.

Keys said at the heart of it all, she's looking forward to looking out into the audience.

"And seeing little urban kids, little Black and brown kids, kids who have not been exposed to theater like this be able to watch and see themselves reflected on the stage and know that if this is where your dreams are, you can have that, you can definitely know how many kids are going to get that, just from seeing that poster with you right there. That's what it's about," Keys said.

Keys says the show is about one core thing.

"The marquee does say where dreams began, and New York, Hell's Kitchen, the whole story, everything about it, it's about dreams," she said.

"So to have Ali at the center, a young woman of color at the center of this piece, is exactly how it's supposed to be because that's what Hell's Kitchen looks like. You know, when you see the production, it looks like my New York City, his New York City, your New York City. It's our New York City," Keys said. "That's why that tagline, 'Remember where your dreams begin,' is so important. Whether you're at the beginning of your dream, the middle of a dream, towards the end of that, whatever version you're in, we all have to remember where they began, you know, so that we can keep them going."


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