Alicia Keys’ coming-of-age musical — Hell’s Kitchen —  celebrated its first preview at The Public Theater last night with an audience of free lottery ticket holders sitting alongside millionaire celebrities, and priceless singing talent on stage.

Hell's Kitchen Public Theater
Hell’s Kitchen downtown at The Public Theater on first preview night. Photo: Phil O’Brien

As mentioned in yesterday’s W42ST daily newsletter, tickets for the first preview were free, thanks to The Public’s Joseph Papp free performance scheme. We headed to the 4:30pm in-person lottery and joined the line, and bumped into Mirirai Sithole who had read about the offer in the newsletter. We didn’t win, but Mirirai snagged two tickets and invited us along! Woot woot and triple woot…

We won’t break convention and give too much information — opening night is not until Sunday November 19.  However, we will say that the rumor before the show was that a further extension to February is being considered (it already extended until February) … and the talk after the first show was it could extend for a very long time!

As the audience started to settle for the 2 hour 30 minutes show, there was excitement as Queen Latifah headed for her seat, followed a few minutes later by the show’s creator, Alicia Keys.

At the intermission, Alicia’s mom, Terria Joseph could be seen wiping away tears and chatting animatedly with her daughter.

Hell's Kitchen Public Theater Alicia Keys Queen Latifah
Alicia Keys chats to Queen Latifah after the Hell’s Kitchen first performance. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The show is loosely based on Keys’ teenage life with her mom in Manhattan Plaza — and the building might have to organize a system of tour guides after the show gets better known.  It really does focus around the life at this artists’ hub and home in Hell’s Kitchen.

The coming-of-age production has been in the making for more than a decade. It has a cast of 20 — and the biggest budget of any show done at the Public Theater. Maleah Joi Moon plays Ali, with Chad Carstarphen in the role of Ray – the doorman at Manhattan Plaza. You can check out a short clip of a new song — Not Even The King — performed by Shoshana Bean and Brandon Victor Dixon, who play Jersey (Mom) and Davis (Dad).

The end of the show sent the crowd away buzzing from a finale that got everyone up on their feet — and maybe even waving “one hand in the air”.

The cast take a bow at the end of the first Hell's Kitchen performance at The Public Theater
The cast takes a bow at the end of the first Hell’s Kitchen performance at The Public Theater. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Tickets are sold out, but there will be a daily lottery for $40 tickets! You might get lucky like Mirirai and Phil…

Hell's Kitchen Public Theater Mirirai Sithole and Phil O'Brien
Mirirai and Phil celebrating their lottery win for Hell’s Kitchen tickets. Photo: Mirirai Sithole
Hell's Kitchen Public Theater
Don’t forget the obligatory Playbill photo! Photo: Phil O’Brien

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