Tuesday, 25 June 2024
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Alicia Keys’ Broadway musical “Hell’s Kitchen” won’t make everyone fall in love

  • The coming-of-age musical “Hell’s Kitchen” is based on the life of 17-year-old Ali, a piano prodigy.
  • In her new song, “The River,” Ali speaks of “something’s calling me,” knowing there’s more to life.
  • For a musical about a single artist and the value of music, this seems like a cop-out.

The coming-of-age musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” written by Alicia Keys, is based on the life of 17-year-old Ali, a piano prodigy. Keys’s greatest hits, including “Fallin’,” “No One,” “Girl on Fire,” and “If I Ain’t Got You,” are reworked in the concert along with a few brand-new tunes, such as the fantastic “Kaleidoscope.”

The musical has a female-driven cast, including Maleah Joi Moon in the title role, Shoshana Bean as her fiery, single mother, and Kecia Lewis as a melancholic piano instructor.

Broadway Musicals

In her new song, “The River,” Ali, an exasperated teenager, speaks of “something’s calling me,” knowing there’s more to life. The grand piano in the common area of her building calls to her, even if she reunites with her untrustworthy father, Brandon Victor Dixon. In the early 1990s, there were “roaches and the rats/heroin in the cracks” outside the Hell’s Kitchen area, but there is no evidence of criminal activity, and the police do not abuse individuals who are thought to be undesirable.

The fact that most of the music performed onstage is phony, with the orchestra crammed into the sides to create funky percussion and piano scales, is another reason the show falls short of its potential. For a musical about a single artist and the value of music, this seems like a cop-out.

Using a hip-hop vocabulary, Camille A. Brown’s choreography is strong and enjoyable, while director Michael Greif expertly keeps everything flowing smoothly.

With “Girl on Fire” being hilariously interrupted by rap verses, “Fallin'” becoming a hilariously seductive ballad, and “No One” changing from an achy love song to a mother-daughter anthem, the way the songs are blended is amazing.

Everyone is anticipating the song about “concrete jungles” and “big lights that will inspire you,” which follows the scene of the young woman curled up on a couch, gazing out over the metropolis she will someday rule, with anticipation.

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