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Dig out your jean shorts and cowboy boots — the saucy, sassy magic of Coyote Ugly is coming to Hell’s Kitchen in 2023, in a new, immersive theater performance brought to the neighborhood by theatrical producer and local resident Holly-Anne Devlin.

Coyote Ugly Live’s promotional photoshoot at Hellcat Annie’s. Photo: Rafael Bernardes

Devlin, who is collaborating with Kaleidoscope Immersive and Coyote Ugly saloon founder Liliana Lovell, announced the upcoming 90s/2000s nostalgia extravaganza, which will feature a multi-genre mashup of burlesque, signature bar-top dancing and the real-life backstories of the women who have seen it all at “the most famous bar on the planet.” 

“It’s definitely a local affair,” said Devlin of the project, which will premiere at an as-yet unannounced bar in Hell’s Kitchen this spring. Having previously pulled off a COVID-safe social distanced speakeasy in the neighborhood, the veteran producer (who boasts Jersey Boys, 700 Sundays and Bring it On amongst her credits) is excited to bring a new, wholly interactive experience for fans of the famous bar, the accompanying movie and cultural lore — or anyone who just wants a rocking, raucous night out. 

“I want our experiences to be for anyone who may not be a theater person, who may not want to sit down at an event. They’re for people that love to have a good time, be entertained and be taken into a whole world of nostalgia and fun and memories that bring you a lot of joy. We’re looking forward to creating an incredible experience that will have people dancing up on the bar with us,” said Devlin. 

Broadway Producer and Hell’s Kitchen local Holly-Anne Devlin is at the helm of the immersive production. Photo: Megan Campbell

As for choosing Coyote Ugly, the legendary East Village watering hole founded by Lovell in 1993 with the philosophy  “Quick wit, unshakable assurance, and the ability to take your last dollar”, Devlin said the nostalgia of the 2000 hit film based on the bar was a key factor. “In high school, we absolutely lived by this movie — because you were seeing females that were empowered in a really fun way,” said Devlin. “And there was something really theatrical about the whole story. Liliana was an absolute female pioneer here in New York and committed to this theme of women being empowered and having fun and bringing joy to other people.” 

When she approached Lovell about collaborating, “One of the things that was very important to her was that we tell the story of how the whole bar came to be,” added Devlin. “That’s when I got interested in talking to the women that work there, the women that created the bar and the showmanship of all of this.”

After interviewing the characters behind Coyote, “It was important to me to tell those stories rather than just pull from the movie, which is still so much fun and so motivating for all of us — I love that music and it’s everything that I grew up with. But it was a made-up story,” said Devlin. “So we’re going to pull our material directly from these women, and focus on the New York women — of which there are hundreds. We’re already in touch with some of these gals, so we’re really excited to dive into that.” 

Devlin and her team are in the process of conducting countless interviews with the many bartenders who have graced the saloon over its nearly 20-year tenure on 1st Avenue. “Some people have been with this company for two decades,” she said, “and the things that they’ve seen and the people that they’ve spoken with and the stories that come through this bar are pretty wild. We’re also excited to see how this has affected our community. For so many people in Hell’s Kitchen, especially those who first got here in the early 2000s, Coyote Ugly was such a part of the city. It’s going to be exciting to revisit that with them.”

You’ll laugh and dance at the new, immersive production opening in the spring. Photo: Rafael Bernardes

Even if you’ve never seen the movie, danced on the Coyote Ugly bar or shuffled up to it, Devlin says that you’re still guaranteed a great time. “I think this is what a lot of people need right now,” she added. “It’s such a blast to be able to give people an experience where you’re going to go out, get a fabulous show, get cocktails and food all in one place. By partnering with these small businesses we’re utilizing what we do best, which is entertainment, and what they do best, which is food and beverage, and reaching out to the community directly.”

She’s confident that West Side audiences will be ready to jump in with two dancing feet. “The Hell’s Kitchen community is obviously so supportive of the theater, but also wants to look for something new. This is kind of a combination of a party and a theatrical experience all in one.” 

After several years of shutdowns and lockdowns and uncertainty, “We need joy, rhinestones and cocktails with bad-assery right now,” said Devlin. “Coyote Ugly is one of the most iconic venues in the world, and I can’t wait to tell the stories of these women and to bring this really electrifying experience on stage —  it’s exactly what our community needs. It’s massively fun and you’re going to get to let your hair down and have a blast.”

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3 Comments

  1. “Speakeasy” was very entertaining. Best of luck to Holly-Anne Devlin! This sounds like another great experience!

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