Freestyle Love Supreme

Melissa Jarmel

Freestyle Love Supreme (-preme, -preme,  -preme, -preme, -preme, as they say in the show) is the most joyful performance on Broadway right now. This show features the hip-hop improv troupe dubbed Freestyle Love Supreme founded by director Thomas Kail and performer Anthony Veneziale in 2003 with future Tony-award nominated and winning cast members such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christopher Jackson, and James Monroe Iglehart.  By the nature of improv, every show is a show unto itself.

With their mastery of the English language and the rhythm of beatboxing, this group follows a set structure of improv songs that comprise an eighty-minute show without an intermission. But the words, themes, and circumstances of the songs are determined by the audience. Audience participation can range from contributing written words before taking your seat that will be incorporated into the show to volunteering to tell a story of an embarrassing situation that you desperately wish you could do over. These contributions can lead to memorable stories such as when Lin-Manuel Miranda used my word “chromosome” to rap about the theater being a place of gender inclusion, or a riff off of the embarrassing story of a girl punching a boy in the face for saying Santa wasn’t real.

In addition to the ever-changing audience input (except for the nightly yells of “Trump” after the group solicits the audience for things they dislike at the moment), the performers change nearly every night. Freestyle Love Supreme is made up of seven core members:

  • Utkarsh Ambudkar a.k.a. UTK in INC (you might recognize him from Pitch Perfect)
  • Andrew Bancroft a.k.a. Jelly Donut (self-described Justin Timberlake knockoff)
  • Aneesa Folds a.k.a. Young Nees (who came up through the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy)
  • Arthur Lewis a.k.a. Arthur the Geniuses (the master of the keys)
  • Kaila Mullady a.k.a. Kaiser Rözé (the 2015 and 2018 World Beatbox Champion)
  • Chris Sullivan a.k.a. Shockwave (the original beatboxer from Freestyle Love Supreme’s 2003 days)
  • Anthony Veneziale a.k.a. Two Touch (the founding member and frequent master of ceremonies of the show).

There are also regular cameo performers: Wayne Brady, Daveed Diggs, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Bill Sherman. Surprise guests, such as the spoken word poet Sarah Kay and legendary actors Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, have also crashed the show. You never know which four or five performers will be part of the show that night until you arrive.

While some audience input is more entertaining and memorable than others, Freestyle Love Supreme never fails to dazzle the audience with clever lyrics that fill the Booth Theatre with roaring laughter. The upbeat energy of Freestyle Love Supreme’s relentless creative imaginings brought me back to see the show time and time again. However, its run on Broadway is a limited engagement, set to close January 12, 2020. They have 10 p.m. shows on the weekends that tend to be a little less kid-friendly, a lot more risqué, and always hilarious. Also be ready to semi-part from your phone for the duration of the show: all phones and smartwatches are locked in Yondr pouches that you get to keep in your possession, so the bliss of a phone-free show can truly happen.

Discount tickets have appeared on TDF and at TKTS booths. Tickets are also frequently resold on Stubhub. You can also get tickets through the digital lottery.

Booth Theatre 222 W. 45th St

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