Freestyle Love Supreme
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Freestyle Love Supreme rhymes up a hugely entertaining storm on Broadway.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman
Freestyle Love Supreme is a dream of a show: the scheme of a team of thespians from Wesleyan who went with their flow, 16 years ago, to improvise a hip-hop musical. Their act is virtuoso. FLS is a phenomenon, uncommon and on-the-fly—a high wire where performers get by without a guide for the words that pour out from their lips and their lungs (as they try not to trip on the tips of their tongues). Their abilities, their skill and ease, are always impressive, but it’s less of a show-off than a love-in with a geek streak. There’s a reason FLS is so buzzy: It’s not just cool, it’s also warm and fuzzy.
In the show’s new incarnation, at a venue on Shubert Alley, the emcee of emcees is Anthony “Two-Touch” Veneziale. He genially handles all the crowd participation, gleaning vital information that will fuel improvisation. The roster of performers varies, but a core group carries much of the weight: Utkarsh Ambudkar is a brash and quick star; beatboxer Chris Sullivan fulfills his mission with precision, as does pianist Arthur Lewis, while the group’s newest addition, Aneesa Folds, is a singer and a smarty who brings welcome fresh eggs to what had been a sausage party.
Special guests each night keep it light and tight as they join Veneziale at the monster-track rally. When I was there, the spare chair was filled by FLS cofounding father Lin-Manuel Miranda—cuddly-cute as a panda, and just the man to land a toss-off joke and lend his hand to his band of brothers at the Booth. They spit some truth, and the consequence is laughter—and after, you may even be inspired to try out your own songs, with your own rhythm and timing. Forget about humming: This show sends you out rhyming.
Booth Theatre (Broadway). Conceived by Anthony Veneziale. Created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Veneziale. Directed by Kail. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission.