Off-Broadway's The Public Theater has announced its upcoming 2023-2024 season, which includes the world premiere of Alicia Keys' musical Hell's Kitchen. The production will run October 24-December 10, with opening night set for November 19.
Inspired by Keys' own life, the new musical features an original score by the 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and a book by Kristoffer Diaz (The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity). The musical centers on 17-year-old Ali and her mother, sharing a cramped apartment near Times Square. Ali wants to live out her NYC dream, but Mom is scared her daughter will repeat her own mistakes. The piece has been in development at the Off-Broadway company since at least February, when a casting notice for a developmental workshop was posted. The premiere will be helmed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown.
Leading the cast will be Maleah Joi Moon as Ali, opposite Shoshana Bean as Ali's mother Jersey, Brandon Victor Dixon as Ali's father Davis, Chad Carstarphen as Ray, Vanessa Ferguson as Tiny, Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal, Chris Lee as Knuck, Jackie Leon as Jessica, Kecia Lewis as Ali's piano teacher Miss Liza Jane, Mariand Torres as Maria, and Lamont Walker II as Riq.
The ensemble will include Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, and Niki Saludez, with understudies Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Onyxx Noel, William Roberson, and Donna Vivino rounding out the company.
Greif's creative team will include scenic designer Robert Brill, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Natasha Katz, sound designer Gareth Owens, projection designer Peter Nigrini, and hair and wig designer Mia Neal. Danny Maly will be production stage manager.
The season will open August 27 with a Public Works musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest at Central Park's Delacorte Theater, featuring music and lyrics by Benjamin Velez, choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and direction by Laurie Woolery. With performances continuing through September 3, the Free Shakespeare in the Park production will feature scenic design by Alexis Distler, costume design by Wilberth Gonzalez, lighting design by David Weiner, sound design by Jessica Paz, hair, wig, and makeup design by Krystal Balleza, and orchestrations by Mike Brun. Kristy Norter will be music coordinator, and Andrea Grody is music director. Roxana Khan is production stage manager, with Janelle Caso and Jessie Moore as stage managers.
Next up is the North American premiere of Druid Theatre's DruidO'Casey, presenting Seán O'Casey's Dublin Trilogy (comprising The Plough and the Stars, The Shadow of a Gunman, and Juno and the Paycock). Presented in partnership with and performing at NYU Skirball, the production will run October 4–14 with Garry Hynes directing. The Public run will follow performances at Galway International Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland, along with performances in Belfast and Dublin. After the New York engagement, the production will play Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mary Kathryn Nagle's Manahatta will make its New York premiere at The Public November 16–December 17, with opening night set for December 5. Directed by Laurie Woolery, the work follows a young Native American woman with an MBA who reconnects with her ancestral Lenape homeland after moving from Oklahoma to New York for a banking job in 2008. The piece was written as part of The Public's Emerging Writers Group.
Tony-winning The Band's Visit writer Itamar Moses' The Ally will make its world premiere at the Off-Broadway company in February 2024, with Lila Neugebauer directing. Josh Radnor will star as Asaf, who's thrown into conflict as a liberal, husband, academic, American, atheist, and Jewish person asked to sign a social justice manifesto.
The New York premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks' Sally & Tom will follow in March, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III. The production is presented in association with Minnesota's Guthrie Theater, where the work made its world premiere in 2022. Described as an "edgy dramedy," the work follows an Off-Off-Off Broadway theatre troupe producing a play about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson that casts the play's writer, Luce, as Sally and its director (and Luce's romantic partner) as Tom.
Closing out the season in April will be a world premiere from Emerging Writers Group alum Ife Olujobi, Jordans, about a receptionist at an overwhelmingly white workplace whose world is turned upside down when her boss hires a hip new coworker to improve the company's image and "culture." Whitney White is directing.
Notably not included in the upcoming season is the Public's Under the Radar Festival, which traditionally brings a number of experimental works to various downtown venues. The Off-Broadway company told The New York Times that eliminating the annual festival was a "financial decision," and that they are looking for new ways to continue their relationship with experimental theatre artists.
For more details, visit PublicTheater.org.