Freestyle Love Supreme is an experience singular to this creative cast. FLS has a core team with Anthony Veneziale (Two Touch), Chris Sullivan (Shockwave), Utkarsh Ambudkar (UTK the INC), Bill Sherman (King Sherman), Arthur Lewis (Arthur the Genius) and Andrew Bancroft (Jelly Donut).
Additionally, special and spontaneous guests include: Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lin-Man), Christopher Jackson (C-Jack), James Monroe Iglehart (J-Soul) and Daveed Diggs (Mr. Diggs).
Whether you’re seeing the regular cast, or a special guest, the evening is unforgettable. The Hamilton and In the Heights connections are evident: Manuel is a co-producer, along with Thomas Kail, Jill Furman and Jenny & Jon Steingart. Plus Hamilton Music Director Kurt Crowley made his FLS debut this year as the music supervisor substitute.
During the first preview performance at the Greenwich House Theater, Ambudkar remarked, “Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t here, so you wasted your money.” The joke landed with laughter and got the awkward tension out of the air.
Later into their run, the audience was asked for names of famous people. An audience member shouted, “Lin-Manuel Miranda” and this time UTK the INC wasn’t throwing away his shot. He started with, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” a nod to Hamilton, and the fans loved it.
Miranda was backstage listening to this bit, and little did the audience know they would be seeing him for the last song of the evening. It was after Nancy, an audience member chosen to join them on stage and recount her day, was thanked, Lin-Man entered and the place exploded.
In my three experiences seeing this run, I’ve cried of laughter and I was certainly not alone. Shockwave is the backbone of the performance as he lays down the beats along with the freestyle rapping, or in a solo bit. His ability to create different sounds and physically embody characters makes him stand out from the crowd.
What may be the most impressive part of the show is their ability to listen to the stories told from audience members on the spot, relive them as if they were their own memories and improve various new endings.
Freestyle Love Supreme thrives because each performer brings something special to the table. The soothing voices of C-Jack and Arthur the Genius complement the spot on wordplay by UTK the INC and Jelly Donut. Two Touch keeps the flow of the evening running and plays off the audience just the right amount, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat.
While the format of the show is consistent, every show is vastly unique to that audience.
One of the more distinctive traits of the FLS experience happens before you reach your seat. After your ticket is checked, you put your phone in a YONDR pouch, which stays with you throughout the show. This prevents people from recording the show, or checking a text. By enjoying a technology-free experience, the artists share a deeper connection with one another and the audience.
Freestyle Love Supreme ends their limited run on March 3rd with a special benefit for Ars Nova.
For a chance at experiencing this one of a kind hip-hop improv show, you can try your luck for $30 tickets by entering the TodayTix digital lottery.
For more reviews and feedback, you can connect with Shoshana @bwaySHO on all social media platforms.