From ‘The Wiz’ revival to Alicia Keys musical, DC native launches two Broadway shows in one week

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Alicia Keys musical 'Hell's Kitchen' on Broadway (Part 1)

Last fall, her nonprofit Canady Foundation for the Arts teamed with National Theatre’s “Teens Behind the Scenes” program to bring hundreds of D.C. students to see the national tour of her revival of “The Wiz.”

The cast of the new Alicia Keys musical "Hell's Kitchen."(Courtesy Joan Marcus)

“We brought about 300 D.C. youth to see the show,” co-producer Marjuan Canady told WTOP. “They came for a talkback and just got to learn more about the process of making the show, so that was a really exciting experience and now ‘The Wiz’ is headed to Broadway for a run through the summer.”

While “The Wiz” opens on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre this Wednesday, Canady isn’t stopping there. She’s also co-producing the new Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” which premieres Saturday at the Shubert Theatre. That’s right, a D.C. native is launching two Broadway shows in the same week!

“Alicia has actually been working on this show for 13 years, so this is really very much her baby,” Canady said. “It’s been many years in development. She actually just finished the off-Broadway run of it at the Public [Theater] last season. It was a sold-out run there and immediately transferred to Broadway, so it’s many years in the making.”

Written by Kristoffer Diaz (book) and Alicia Keys (music and lyrics), the semi-autobiographical tale tells the coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1990s.

“It’s not autobiographical of Alicia’s story, but it’s inspired by many of her experiences — I mean, the main character’s name is Ali,” Canady said. “She’s 17 years old, it’s coming-of-age, and she’s dealing with balancing her dreams, new love, her first love. It’s a story about passion and following your dreams and navigating both love and a relationship with her mother, so for that aspect of the story, it very much is Alicia’s story.”

The cast stars Maleah Joi Moon as Ali and Shoshana Bean as Jersey, as well as Gaithersburg, Maryland-native Brandon Victor Dixon as Davis and Richmond, Virginia-native Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal.

“The cast is incredible,” Canady said. “Maleah Joi Moon, her voice is just incredible, she’s really embodying the spirit of Alicia and also creating a new character as well. I think there can be a lot of pressure to live up to, but I think she is such a dynamic performer and I’m excited to see what she does for the rest of the run.”

Directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown, the jukebox musical features all of your favorite Keys songs, including “Girl on Fire,” “Fallin’,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “No One” and “Empire State of Mind.”

“There’s so many great songs,” Canady said. “It’s so awesome because it’s rearranged in a way that fits the story. It’s not just ‘this is just the pop or R&B hit,’ it’s going to make sense the way the story unfolds. Adam Blackstone is our music supervisor, so the way that Alicia and Adam worked in recreating the music is incredible and a lot of people who don’t traditionally come to see musical theater, Alicia has said that this musical speaks to those folks.”

While “Empire State of Mind” sang about a concrete jungle where dreams are made of, Canady continues to bless New York City with her own D.C. state of mind, bringing a theatrical taste of the District to the Big Apple.

“I spent many years developing my craft here in D.C.,” Canady said. “I went to Duke Ellington School of the Arts many years ago and went off to New York and L.A. and have been working in the industry in theater and film, as well as developing my own work here in D.C. I have a production company, Sepia Works, and a nonprofit, the Canady Foundation for the Arts, where we serve predominantly youth of color with arts education experiences. … It’s exciting to still continue to serve the DMV community as well as work on Broadway in the larger industry.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Alicia Keys musical 'Hell's Kitchen' on Broadway (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation on the podcast below:


Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up