This neighborhood girl is on fire! Tickets to Grammy Award-winning artist and former Manhattan Plaza resident Alicia Keys’ semi-autobiographical musical, Hell’s Kitchen, go on sale today (Tuesday) at noon. 

Alicia Keys Manhattan Plaza
Alicia Keys is returning to her upbringing at Manhattan Plaza in Hell’s Kitchen. Photo montage: Public Theatre/Phil O’Brien


  • Grammy Award-winning artist Alicia Keys returns to her roots in Hell’s Kitchen with her semi-autobiographical musical, featuring her biggest hits and new original music.
  • The coming-of-age production follows 17-year-old Ali, raised by a single mother in Manhattan Plaza, as she navigates love, race, and growing up in the 1990s.
  • The highly anticipated musical, directed by Michael Greif and written by Kristoffer Diaz, showcases Alicia Keys’ deep involvement and authenticity, making it a must-see love story between a mother and a daughter.

* This summary is made with the support of AI tool ChatGPT 4.0 and quality checked by W42ST staff.

There’s been a huge buzz since news of the show broke earlier this year.  The musical will feature some of her biggest songs along with new music Keys has written especially for the production. 

Hell’s Kitchen is based on the singer’s upbringing in the 1990s and the action takes place over a few months. The central character is 17-year-old Ali, raised by a single mother in a small apartment in Manhattan Plaza. Ali’s mother is determined to protect her daughter from making the same mistakes she made — but when Ali falls for a talented drummer, she must face hard truths about race and growing up. 

“This piece is undeniable. You will not — you can’t not feel this piece,” said Keys in an interview on Way Up with Angela Yee. “Ultimately it’s a love story between a mother and a daughter but there’s a lot of struggles in between. Everyone is going to see themselves inside of this piece. It’s very accessible but it’s also very honest.” 

The coming-of-age production has been in the making for more than a decade. In 2011, Keys chose Kristoffer Diaz, an award-winning playwright, to pen the book. In 2018, Michael Greif — who has won three Obie Awards and received four Tony Award nominations, for Rent, Grey Gardens, Next to Normal and Dear Evan Hansen — joined the project as director.

The musical has a cast of 20 — and the biggest budget of any show done at the Public Theater. Up-and-coming Actress Maleah Joi Moon will play Ali, with Chad Carstarphen in the role of Ray – the doorman at Manhattan Plaza. 

Hell's Kitchen Chad Carstarphen and Michael Greif
Chad Carstarphen (right) who will play Manhattan Plaza doorman Ray in Hell’s Kitchen with the show’s director Michael Greif. Photo: Chad Carstarphen Instagram

“I’m from NYC. I love my city. I love the people that make this city what it is, and I love the many stories that come from this city. You put together the genius, Alicia Keys, (whose music I’ve loved since her first album), legendary theater director Michael Greif, the incredible book writing of Kristoffer Diaz, and masterful choreography of Camille A. Brown…I’m there,” Carstarphen told W42ST. “I’m showing up everyday to bring HK to life. As an artist from NYC being trusted by these fellow New York artists…it’s a dream come true. I don’t take it for granted being able to help bring this beautiful story to life on stage.”

Keys has had a heavy hand in the development of the musical and her production company owns the commercial rights to the show.  “I’m never hands off,” she said. “There’s not one page, there’s not one sheet, there’s not one word, there’s not one song, there’s not one melody, there’s not anything that happens in this piece that moves without me completely immersed in it and ensuring its authenticity.”

She once sang about “Seein’ my face in lights or my name in marquees found down on Broadway”. Alicia — it’s time to make that Empire State of Mind prediction come true!

Tickets are listed from $125 on the Public Theater’s website. Previews for Hell’s Kitchen begin on October 24 and the show opens on November 19.

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