Hell's Kitchen - SYNOPSIS

2024 Broadway
Hell's Kitchen the Musical - SYNOPSIS

Act 1

Ali, a 17 year-old girl, welcomes the audience to Manhattan Plaza in the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan and introduces the people in her life: the musicians who make up the artist housing in Manhattan Plaza; her friends, Tiny and Jessica; and her mother Jersey. Jersey, a singer and working woman who supports Rudy Giuliani's leadership in New York, notices Ali talking to Knuck, a bucket drummer who is part of a group that hangs out in the building, and forces them to break off their interaction ("The Gospel"). Ali expresses frustration over her mother's protective efforts and yearns for independence ("The River"). Jersey defends her protectiveness to the other residents, pointing out that Ali is only seventeen years old and is still naïve and impulsive ("Seventeen").

While the drummers practice in the building's courtyard, Tiny and Jessica urge Ali to make a move on Knuck ("You Don't Know My Name"). Ali's awkward attempt proves unsuccessful, with Knuck turning her down; shortly after, he and the other drummers are kicked out of the building due to Jersey calling the police. Ali throws a tantrum and storms out of the apartment, but is prevented from leaving the building due to a sudden rainstorm. Hiding in the building's Ellington Room (a music practice room) she notices one of the building's residents Miss Liza Jane practicing piano, and becomes enamored with what she hears; Liza Jane notices her and offers to teach her to play ("Kaleidoscope"). Ali tracks Knuck down at work, where he hesitantly agrees to see her again ("Gramercy Park"). Jersey warns Ali against dating a musician: she recalls falling for Ali's father, Davis, a piano player ("Not Even the King") but laments his continued broken promises and inability to keep plans. Ali continues to pursue Knuck, eventually sleeping with him at his apartment ("Teenage Love Affair"). She stumbles into the Ellington Room on accident, where Miss Liza Jane makes her sit down for a piano lesson, teaching her some basic music theory ("Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)").

Ali rides the high of her relationship and her newfound love of music with the encouragement of Jessica, despite Tiny warning her of the danger ("Girl on Fire"). She invites Knuck over while Jersey is at work; Jersey returns home to find them asleep on the couch and angrily ejects Knuck from the apartment. While leaving, Knuck is shocked to learn that Ali is only seventeen. Jersey chases Ali as she follows Knuck down to the lobby, where he gets into a brief scuffle with the doorman Ray. Ali accuses Jersey of ruining her relationship because Jersey could not keep her own; Jersey slaps her in response. They are interrupted by the arrival of the police, whom Jersey called: however, seeing the scuffle they draw their weapons. Luckily, no one gets hurt, but Ali refuses to speak to her mother and retreats to the Ellington Room, where Liza Jane consoles her by pointing out the situation could have been much worse; she reflects on the racism she herself has experienced and urges Ali to continue learning to play so that she may continue a legacy of music ("Perfect Way to Die").

Act 2

The residents of Manhattan Plaza express their shared struggles and goals, while Miss Liza Jane is escorted by Ray from a doctor's appointment ("Authors of Forever"). Ali continues to refuse to speak with Jersey ("Heartburn"). Liza Jane privately reveals to Jersey she is terminally ill and likely does not have much longer to live, something she is keeping from Ali. When Ali admits sometimes she wishes Liza Jane was her mother instead, Liza Jane elects to end the lesson, urging Ali to appreciate the time she has with her mother. When Jersey fails again to get through to Ali, she calls up Davis as a last resort ("Love Looks Better"). Ali tracks down Knuck at his paint job ("Work on It"), but is rebuffed: Knuck tells her the police continued to harass him after the arrest, forcing him to escape to Atlanta to stay with family for several weeks.

Davis arrives at the apartment, where Jersey unloads her guilt over what she put Knuck, Ali, and the other residents through. Davis tries to offer his support, but mainly flirts with Jersey ("Fallin"). A tempted Jersey turns him down, and criticizes him for his absence. Ali falls asleep in the Ellington Room while looking for Liza Jane; when she wakes up she discovers Davis, who tries to bond with her by playing a song together ("If I Ain't Got You"). Ali is cheered up by spending time with her father, but soon realizes his unreliability when he hedges on when they can meet again. Jersey consoles Ali afterwards, and encourages her to talk to Knuck. She then tracks down Davis at his audition and warns him to stay away from Ali, refusing to let him hurt their daughter as he has hurt her ("Pawn It All"). Knuck reveals to Ali he is planning to move in with his family in Atlanta, due to having found community there ("Like You'll Never See Me Again"). The two part on amicable terms; though Ali is saddened that they have no chance of a relationship due to her youth and his moving, she finds solace in realizing she has made an adult decision for the first time ("When It's All Over"). When she returns home, however, she discovers the normally music-laden building silent; she encounters Jersey who tearfully informs her of Miss Liza Jane's passing.

They attend the service held in the Ellington Room, where Ali refuses to engage with the other mourners. Davis arrives and offers a eulogy expressing gratitude for Liza Jane for helping his daughter, and plays a tune on the piano. Ali eventually joins in, leading the mourners in a song ("Hallelujah/Like Water"). Jersey takes a chance and invites Davis to have dinner with her and Ali the following Friday, but he fails to show up. Though disappointed, Ali commends her mother for trying her hardest, and the two resolve that they still have each other ("No One"). Ali tells the audience their relationship continues to be rocky, but they are on steadier ground. She admits sorrow over Knuck's departure and Miss Liza Jane's passing, but continues to pursue music and expresses fondness for her community in Hell's Kitchen ("Empire State of Mind").

Review: Hell's Kitchen the Musical Lyrics