By Sandi Durell . . .
For those of you who might remember (or have seen reruns of) the 1950s black and white TV series called “This Is Your Life” (hosted by Ralph Edwards), Freestyle Love Supreme was a reminder. Why? Because FLS is the contemporary Hip-Hop/Rap version involving the audience and how everyone easily exposes just about all facets of their lives, given the opportunity. It even extends to cast members who (at the performance I attended) let down their hair. So what’s FLS got that keeps audiences coming back (at least 20% have been there several times), laughing, crying and otherwise feeling part of the greater humanity.
It’s got the creativity of the Hamilton crowd – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail and conceiver Anthony Veneziale. Before much happens, you’re already on board with the QR Code in your program giving instructions to send off a word to be used in the show- any word that pops into your head – the first word. So the word of the night was GRIND! But there were other words like Homecoming, Hair, Poodle, Mom, and especially Mac & Cheese.
And, oh, what this cast (Anthony Veneziale (Two Touch), Aneesa Folds (Young Nees), Tarik Davis (Tardis Hardaway), Chris Sullivan (Shockwave) and musicians can do with just one word!
The backdrop is a showcase of speakers/boomboxes (set design by Beowulf Boritt) within which the very much involved musicians follow the yellow brick road set by the extraordinarily talented improv hip-hoppers running the show. Shockwave can replicate and deliver any thoughts and sounds just by using his talents on a microphone (no words needed).
The FLS cast is quick in the brain and on their feet as they make it up for 90 minutes of extraordinary storytelling in their own hip-hop language. The words keep coming, the creativity keeps flowing as stories unfold and the audience laughs and hoots in sheer delight. Then it’s time to choose a couple of audience members to really get involved and tell a real life story which results in their own personal Hip-Hop Musical and becomes an extravaganza of silly, clever creativity in the hands of this troupe of improvisor merrymakers. It’s organized mayhem with lots of honest emotions and the audience is beside themselves!
Directed by Thomas Kail, FLS will go on (somewhere) forever! PS: You never know when one of these special guests might drop in – Daveed Diggs, James Monroe Iglehart, Wayne Brady and even Miranda himself.
Freestyle Love Supreme at the Booth Theatre West 45th Street thru January 2, 2022 and then who knows where it will land!
A $25 digital lottery for a limited number of tickets is offered to help fans get tickets. More information will be available on the show’s website at www.freestylelovesupreme.com.