Even New York, the difficult burg Keys and Jay-Z and some others romanticized in the 2009 track “Empire State of Mind” — and now the “Hell’s Kitchen” finale — will come across as a chummy town where by you’re positive to locate your have supportive group. And also dance a large amount, in the singer-songwriter’s anthology musical that marked its formal opening Sunday evening at off-Broadway’s General public Theater.
So, to recap: Keys and business have written a show about household that is not all that much to produce property about. Working with Keys’s blues-, jazz- and pop-infused compositions, director Michael Greif and librettist Kristoffer Diaz construct a teenage coming-of-age musical with numerous of the characters we have arrive to know and hold two methods in advance of: the restless 17-year-old, the protective mother, the adorable boyfriend, the demanding teacher.
They and a spunky ensemble have been assembled on designer Robert Brill’s scaffolded established (which will remind you of other Greif-directed initiatives, this kind of as the Pulitzer-successful “Next to Normal”). In 23 tracks prepared by Keys with other artists, they tell the tried out-and-accurate tale of a star and her roots. Except that, on the proof of “Hell’s Kitchen,” there is not a great deal scintillating story to convey to.
What “Hell’s Kitchen” does dish out in sufficient portions are vocalizing and dancing pleasures. The performances by Lee, Bean, Dixon and Kecia Lewis (the very last as Ali’s lovingly stern piano teacher, Pass up Liza Jane) are sung with polished, at moments dazzling conviction. Oozing avenue-intelligent appeal, Moon tends to make an impressive specialist debut as Keys’s change moi (though one particular hopes that with this octave-traversing position, Moon’s voice remains suitably rested). And Camille A. Brown’s choreography, alive with the city electrical power of hip-hop and house dancing, presents a dependable resource of electricity.
“She’s just a girl and she’s on fireplace,” goes the lyric to “Girl on Fire,” from Keys’s 2012 album of that title. Like numerous of the tunes in “Hell’s Kitchen” — the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood wherever the singer-songwriter grew up — this one particular satisfies the show’s autobiographical mandate. “Gramercy Park,” sweetly sung by Lee and Moon, requires place, aptly adequate, in that affluent district, in which Knuck will work as a home painter, and “Pawn It All,” sent with blow-the-speakers-out electricity by Bean, expresses all of Jersey’s disappointment at the lousy spouse and father she opted for.
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You are hardly ever very authorized to forget about more than the 2½ several hours of “Hell’s Kitchen” that a musical constructed on “found” music has a limited toolbox. Greif, Diaz and Brown line up the ensemble at the top of Act 2 for a heartwarming “Authors of Forever”: “So let us rejoice the dreamers/ We embrace the room involving us,” they sing — a scene that looks patterned on “Seasons of Adore,” the unforgettable Act 2 opener of the Greif-directed “Rent.” The finish devised for Overlook Liza Jane, graciously embodied by Lewis, also feels like anything taken from the Guideline to Inspirational Figures.
Keys’s supporters probably will not keep the musical to account for these alternatively standard-difficulty features, as the orchestrations by Adam Blackstone and Tom Kitt, preparations by Blackstone and Keys, and new music way by Dominic Fallacaro so exuberantly reproduce the tunes they appreciate. It’s all in provider of some thing limited of wonderful. Just, you know, wonderful.
Hell’s Kitchen, new music and lyrics by Alicia Keys, ebook by Kristoffer Diaz. Directed by Michael Greif. Choreography, Camille A. Brown audio supervision, Adam Blackstone Sets, Robert Brill costumes, Dede Ayite lights, Natasha Katz sound, Gareth Owen projections, Peter Nigrini orchestrations, Adam Blackstone and Tom Kitt. With Chad Carstarphen, Crystal Monee Corridor, Vanessa Ferguson. About 2½ several hours. By Jan. 14 at General public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., New York. publictheater.org.