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Infusing New York City into the choreography of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Two-time Tony-nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown discusses rooting her movement for the new Alicia Keys musical in the city’s culture.

Camille A. Brown (Credit: Jingyu Lin)

Camille A. Brown’s choreography for the new musical “Hell’s Kitchen” is kinetic, athletic and rhythmic. That’s not unheard of for the choreographer who earned Tony Award nominations for her movement in “Choir Boy” and the 2022 revival of “for colored girls,” for which she also earned a nod for her direction. But what is particularly fresh for the production inspired by 16-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys’ life (and set to songs by Keys) is the New York-ness of Brown’s choreography.

As the musical’s title implies, “Hell’s Kitchen” (named after the midtown Manhattan neighborhood where both Keys and the show’s protagonist, Ali, grew up) is very specifically set in New York City. The production’s scenic design, however, leans into simplicity, relying largely on steel scaffolding. Therefore, it counts on other elements, such as choreography, to create the atmosphere of its titular district. And Brown’s movement delivers that NYC vibe in spades.

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