Everything you need to know about ‘Freestyle Love Supreme’ on Broadway
Freestyle Love Supreme returns to Broadway at the Booth Theatre in October 2021.
From humble beginnings at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, to two Broadway engagements, the hip-hop improv group known as Freestyle Love Supreme has come a long way. The troupe was co-created in 2004 by Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Thomas Kail alongside current FLS member Anthony Veneziale. And though FLS has toured the world, performing at festivals from Edinburgh to Montreal to Melbourne, the group's self-titled show could not feel more at home than at the Booth Theatre. Freestyle Love Supreme played its Broadway debut engagement there in the fall of 2019, earning rave reviews.
Freestyle Love Supreme returns to Broadway from October 7, 2021 to January 2, 2022. Get Freestyle Love Supreme tickets here.
What is Freestyle Love Supreme about?
That's up to the audience! No two performances of Freestyle Love Supreme are the same due to the improvisational format of the show. Freestyle Love Supreme is a combination of rap artistry, music, and improvised comedy. With three emcees, a beatboxer, two musicians and a couple of special guests thrown in for good measure, Freestyle Love Supreme elicits suggestions from the audience and spins them into spontaneous freestyle raps or even full-fledged comedic scenes and musical numbers. Whether it is just a verb, something people love (or loathe), or an audience member’s entire day so far, the Freestyle Love Supreme members work lyrical magic as they weave various topics into staged narratives.
When did Freestyle Love Supreme premiere?
The troupe's Broadway show premiered September 13, 2019 before officially opening on October 2 of that year. Its second Broadway engagement begins October 7, 2021 and runs through January 2, 2022. FLS's initial Broadway run was far from the first time the group has performed an improv show, however. The troupe has been performing since its inception, with its first appearance on the New York stage happening at Ars Nova in 2004. The Freestyle Love Supreme show made its international debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the incubator of fellow Broadway hit Six) the following year.
What theatre in New York is Freestyle Love Supreme playing at?
Freestyle Love Supreme is playing at the Booth Theatre until January 2, 2022.
What is the running time of Freestyle Love Supreme?
Freestyle Love Supreme is approximately 90 minutes long with no intermission.
Who is in the cast of Freestyle Love Supreme?
Freestyle Love Supreme features a full-time cast of seven performers in the troupe, all with a stage nickname. Led by co-creator Anthony Veneziale (aka Two-Touch), the cast also includes Andrew Bancroft (aka Jelly Donut), Tarik Davis (aka Tardis Hardaway), Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees), Arthur Lewis (aka Arthur the Geniuses), Kaila Mullady (aka Kaiser Rözé), and Chris Sullivan (aka Shockwave). Certain performances also feature special guests, sometimes announced in advance and sometimes not, including Ashley Pérez Flanagan (aka Reina Fire) and Bill Sherman (aka King Sherman).
What celebrities have performed in Freestyle Love Supreme?
Celebrity performers are among the rotating lineup of special guests at Freestyle Love Supreme, most of whom are Hamilton alumni. Five-time Emmy Award winner, comedian, and Broadway performer Wayne Brady joined certain performances during the show's first Broadway run, as did Tony Award winners Daveed Diggs and James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award nominee Christopher Jackson. And as the troupe's co-creator, it's no surprise that Lin-Manuel Miranda himself makes an appearance from time to time.
What did the reviews of Freestyle Love Supreme say?
The New York Theatre Guide review of Freestyle Love Supreme reads that the show is "a seamlessly structured sequence of numbers with building complexity. From a few key words sourced for a quick freestyle to audience anecdotes being turned into mini-operas, freestyle love supreme pushes the boundaries of both improv and music." The critic also praised all the performers; Sullivan, for example, was described as "an astonishing beatboxer whose vocal mechanics are capable of carrying a show on their own," Ambudkar "deftly brandishes a bottomless arsenal of rhymes in perfect cadence," and the "impeccable sense of humor" of Folds "is rivaled by her thunderous intensity on a heavy beat."
Other critics similarly hailed the show. The Vulture review reads, "Freestyle Love Supreme, like the quick-spitting rap style in its name and the improv comedy form it’s built around, is held together by nerve and verve, good instincts and a lot of good will." The New York Times called the show an "exultant master course in the fine art of hip-hop" which "suggests that there’s no feeling, thought or experience so anxious or so random that it can’t be translated into infectious, neon-bright rhythms." The reviews noted that relying heavily on audience suggestions means that the success of any given bit of each show is unpredictable, but gave high praise overall to the concept of Freestyle Love Supreme and the performers' improvisational and musical skill.
What awards has Freestyle Love Supreme won?
At the 74th annual Tony Awards ceremony held on September 26, 2021, Freestyle Love Supreme won a Special Tony Award for making an outstanding and unique contribution to the Broadway theatre landscape. (The show was ineligible for the competitive categories because of its improvised nature.)
Why should I see Freestyle Love Supreme on Broadway?
There is simply nothing else like Freestyle Love Supreme currently on offer on Broadway. Hamilton fans, improv and comedy fans, and rap music fans will enjoy the format and content of the show, not to mention its performers. They create fast-paced freestyle raps and songs in equally quick, creative, and intellectual ways. In addition, Freestyle Love Supreme is a shared experience. The performers are reliant on the audience and the limitations of its imagination, and as such they are supportive of the audience's input. Nobody is subjected to ridicule or embarrassment, and everyone can choose how much they want to be a part of the show. Even those who shy away from interactive theatre or prefer traditional musicals have the option, like at any other show, to simply sit back and take in the scenes that unfold.
What are some trivia about Freestyle Love Supreme?
- A 2020 Hulu documentary titled We Are Freestyle Love Supreme premiered on the streaming platform in 2020. The film documents the troupe's entire history to that point and is directed by Andrew Fried, who began shooting footage of FLS in 2005. The documentary thus contains footage that spans 15 years of FLS.
- Freestyle raps at past performances have tackled such diverse subjects as Marvel’s Avengers, Brexit, naptime, the MTA, raisins, bikini waxes, college loans, lactose intolerance, Russia, jalapeños, and one-night stands with priests in training, among countless others.
- Besides Freestyle Love Supreme, Miranda and Kail also worked together on Hamilton. Kail, who directs Freestyle Love Supreme on Broadway, also directed Miranda's historical rap musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Though Miranda had created other theatre before — including FLS and the Tony-winning 2008 musical In the Heights — it was Hamilton that made him a household name.
How do I get tickets for Freestyle Love Supreme?
Get tickets for Freestyle Love Supreme by purchasing them on New York Theatre Guide here.
For more information on Freestyle Love Supreme, check out our video guide from the show's director and co-creator, Thomas Kail, below.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus