Director, actor and educator Alexa Kelly moved to New York 34 years ago and has put down firm roots in the neighborhood. Tonight she will be on the red carpet as Director of Strings Attached at its opening night on Theatre Row.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
Came here from teaching at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor about 34 years ago. I was born in London, England.
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
A friend of mine that I knew from Tallahassee had got a little apartment here on 55th Street — there was a bath tub in the kitchen! — and she then got into Manhattan Plaza. She knew I was looking for a place to live and gave me her place. Then I followed her to Manhattan Plaza.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
I love the vitality of it, the convenience of everything being around, lots of low cost places to buy good vegetables and all kinds of food. Little parks to sit and see the vegetation. And I love being so close to the river and our lovely pier.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
Sometimes the streets get really filthy with food debris and garbage strewn about.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
Theatre and theatre. We run a theatre company, so there is always tons of work to catch up on, scripts to work on, competitions to judge, etc. Seems like one can never catch up!!!
More West Side Stories
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
How very happy I am to stay at home!
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
How much staying at home makes me happy, and I still do not have time to do all the things I used to love doing — like painting, stained glass, sewing and reading
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
Having Tyne Daly come into our theatre for a rehearsal. Bumping into Tyne Daly when I was walking home one night, and she was just leaving the theatre — telling her how wonderful she was in that show. Meeting Glenda Jackson after her King Lear, and FORGETTING to tell her that I saw her in Marat Sade — yeah 200 years ago, when we were both young!!
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
Al Pacino scouting our theatre on 42nd Street, to use as a location. Seeing the Pope on 34th Street in his little Fiat.
What’s your superpower?
Knowing if people, especially politicians, are lying!
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
This week it’s been Hey Jude!
Which people inspire you the most?
Kind and generous people. My actors in this play have been such a clear example — kind generous and caring people. I have been truly blessed by them!
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!”
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
Yes, but not when it is too crowded and I have to get somewhere!!
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
Haven’t wandered around in it, but hate that it has taken so much of our sky
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to HK that is no longer around, what would it be?
The view from our balcony that The Pod Hotel took away!!
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
Come and see our show. STRINGS ATTACHED at Theatre Row — it is well worth your time. I feel like I was born to direct, although I love acting and teaching very much!
Hell’s Kitchen Happy Places
Pier 84 in Hudson River Park — I love the water and looking at the river
Chez Josephine — I love listening to their music tapes
International Grocery on 9th Ave — Reminds me of all the things my Greek mother used to make
Stony Hill Farm’s Market on W43rd Street — The fresh veggies, the basil, the plants
Mee Noodle Shop — Great food
Westway Diner — I love it! Great breakfasts and a great place to chat with friends over lunch. The service is excellent too.
Little Pie Company — They make great pies!! The apple walnut pie is our favorite and we always buy it for special celebrations
Ari Sushi — This new Japanese restaurant on W44th Street, just off 9th Avenue is great. The food is simple and delicious and my favorite roll is the Mermaid. It’s a good, quiet place to sit and chat with friends.