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Actors dance on the set of 'Hell's Kitchen' in classic New York '90s street clothes.
Photo courtesy of 'Hell's Kitchen.'

'Hell's Kitchen,' Always Remember Where Dreams Begin

Loosely based on the life of Alicia Keys, 'Hell's Kitchen' will bring the star's chart-topping catalog to Broadway in a new musical featuring Maleah Joi Moon in the lead role.

(This page contains content sponsored by the Broadway musical, Hell's Kitchen)

The rousing new Broadway musical, Hell’s Kitchen, is a sensational production befitting the chart-topping catalog of global superstar and 16-time Grammy® Award winner, Alicia Keys. Even though it isn’t a purely autobiographical interpretation, the story is based on actual events from her upbringing in the bustling, diverse, artist-filled neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

The highly anticipated musical transports the audience to Keys’s childhood residential complex of Manhattan Plaza, where she spent her early, formative years. Growing up, her mother was an aspiring actress and part-time paralegal. The complex and multi-layered relationship between mother and daughter plays a pivotal role in the musical. “I remember I’d fall asleep under my mother’s paralegal chair and also under the seats at her theater performances — those moments were a big influence on my younger years.” She continues, “We would stand in line to get the lesser-priced tickets and see a bunch of Broadway shows together [like Rent]; and it really stuck with me because I saw and heard songs delivered in a way that made me want to go home and play on the piano.”

Really good things take time to create, and with Hell’s Kitchen, it’s been over a decade of planning and preparation for this magical theater moment to come to life. It’s worth noting that the cast and directorial crew amassed for this musical represent some of the most elite talent the industry has to offer. The playwright is Pulitzer-finalist, Kristoffer Diaz, the director is Tony Award-nominated Michael Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens, Dear Evan Hansen), the award-winning choreographer is Camille A. Brown (The Choir Boy, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert), and the accomplished music supervisor is Adam Blackstone (live music director for Nicki Minaj, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna).


During a press event in early March at Sony Hall, Okayplayer was granted time with Hell's Kitchen’s charismatic music supervisor, Adam Blackstone. One of the burning questions on our minds was how one whittles down the songs to feature in an Alicia Keys musical when her catalog is filled with so many incredible hits. “That definitely posed a challenge,” Blackstone explains, “because I’m a fan of the music first and there are some Alicia Keys songs that I definitely wanted to get in there. But I had to learn that with Broadway, the story is the most important part — even though the music is right up there, we’re still telling a story that we want everyone to grasp.”

With the musical being set during the '90s in NYC, Blackstone made it a point to dig into the rich vibes and deep musical influences of that era. “I had a bunch of Bad Boy, Wu-Tang, early Nas and Jay-Z references, and '90s R&B references too,” he shared about his musical approach. “And also, because there is a wide variety of ages represented in the cast, we had to include jazz, blues, and even some Nina Simone-style storytelling.”

One of the main reasons why Hell’s Kitchen is garnering so much buzz and rave reviews is the praise being heaped on its lead actor/singer, Maleah Joi Moon. She plays the central role of “Ali” and from all accounts, she is a bona fide superstar in the making. Blackstone’s face lights up when discussing Moon’s extraordinary innate talent. “I remember our first table read and her opening her mouth to sing — I believe she sang “No One” for me and I was just blown away,” he shared. “There’s something so new, so tender and so innocent about her voice, and then you see her act, and it’s just as mindblowing. She is definitely going to set this Broadway world on fire!”

Actors dance on the set of 'Hell's Kitchen' in classic New York '90s street clothes. Photo courtesy of 'Hell's Kitchen.'

Ultimately, when this level of stellar talent is assembled, with passion, authenticity and dedication to craft being the guiding pillars, the outcome is bound to be something special. As our chat drew to a close, Blackstone emphasized why he thinks everyone should check out Hell’s Kitchen. “It’s a truly inspiring story that you can take so much away from. As a parent, it allows you to look at the relationship with your child differently. And as a child, it will make you re-evaluate your relationship with your parents. But at the end of a day, it’s a story that reminds us that dreams do come true.”

As we inch closer to the show’s official debut at the Shubert Theatre on March 28, Alicia Keys, the heart and soul of Hell’s Kitchen, expressed her unbridled pride about her labor of love finally getting to Broadway. “When you see this musical, you can tell that it feels and looks like my New York City, your New York City, our New York City,” she proclaims. “There are just so many surprises, and you’ll see the inspirational lead character, Ali, claiming her space and trying to find her way in life — that's why the tagline of Hell’s Kitchen is so important: ‘Remember where dreams begin,’ because we have to remember where we began, so we can keep those dreams going.”


Tickets for Hell’s Kitchen are available now and selling fast. Get yours here.

Listen to "Kaleidoscope" from Hell's Kitchen — the newest track from Alicia Keys.