Hip-hop, improv comedy and live theater collide with “Freestyle Love Supreme”

By Beth Mac

April 21, 2022

Photo: Joan Marcus

Before Lin-Manuel Miranda Conceived His Broadway Hip-Hop Hit hamiltonhe helped form a small hip-hop improv group in 2004 called Freestyle Love Supreme (FSL). Overshadowed by the success of the ideas and pieces Manuel created while in this band, FLS mesmerized audiences around the world for the better part of two decades with musical versions of Whose is it anyway-type comedy with catchy beats and riffs. After completing their second Broadway stint last JanuaryFSL embarks on an 11-city national tour that will stop at Charlotte’s Knight Theater in May.

Freestyle Love Supreme was born out of a collaboration between musically-minded colleagues Lin-Manuel Miranda (hamilton), Anthony Veneziale (Bartlett), and Thomas Kail (hamilton) as a way to brainstorm ideas and learn from each other. The group enjoyed early success in their fast-paced comedy shows that culminated in their 2019 Broadway debut at New York’s Booth Theater. Since the show is not scripted and does not fit into an existing price category, FSL received a special Tony in 2020. The group’s success was not limited to the stage, they earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2020 for Best Musical Motion Picture for their Hulu documentary directed by Andrew Fried, We are the supreme love of freestyle.

Filled with witty and hilarious freestyles over beatbox and a keyboard, each FSL the performance is truly unique. This is partly due to the show’s improvisational style, but also because they incorporate audience feedback and suggestions into their act.

“It’s always so much fun because we never know what’s going to happen until it happens and it’s always a wild ride,” said cast member Morgan Reillyaka “Hummingbird”.

Throughout the show, FSL incorporates games using audience suggestions to create catchy, humorous, up-tempo songs.

From left to right: Jay Ellis (“Jellis”)Morgan Reilly (“Humming-bird”)Richard Baskin Jr (“Rich Midway”)Andrew Bancroft (“jelly donut”)and Kaila Mullady (“Kaiser Roze”). Photo Joan Marcus

“My favorite game is Second Chances. We’ll be quizzing the audience about something that happened in their life that went horribly wrong, and we’re playing out that scenario for a worst-case, best-case scenario. case,” said Reilly.

Music, improv comedy and live theater intersect FSL creating the need for a well-rounded cast. Tour members come from all walks of the entertainment industry, including actors, recording artists, and even beatboxers. Although the current tour does not feature the talents of Lin-Manuel Miranda on its permanent roster, FSL brought together an impressive cast of performers led by founding member and master of improvisation Anthony Veneziale (“Two-Touch”). the FSL tour company also offers Andrew Bancroft (“Jelly Donut”), Jay C. Ellis (“Jellis”), Aneesa Folds (“Young Nees”), Kaila Mullady (“Kaiser Rözé”) and Chris Sullivan (“Shockwave”). The public will have the chance to see the talents of some of the new FSL members keyboardist and vocalist Richard Baskin Jr (“Rich Midway”), rapper Jay C. Ellis (“Jelis J”), keyboardists and vocalist James Rushin (“Not Draggin”) and recording artist Morgan Reilly (“Humming-bird”).

From left to right: Chris Sullivan (“Shock wave”)Jay Ellis (“Jelis J”)Anthony Veneziale (“two keys”)and Morgan Reilly (“Humming-bird”). Photo Joan Marcus

True to form out of the box, FSL is known for featuring high profile guest artists who remain unannounced before each performance to keep things fresh. Past shows have featured the likes of Wayne Brady (Who does it belong to anyway?), Utkarsh Ambudkar (Perfect), James Monroe Iglehart (Tony Award winner for his role as Genie in Broadway’s Aladdin), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Lion King), Daveed Daniele Diggs (hamilton), keyboardist Bill Sherman (hamilton and sesame street) and, of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

From left to right: Morgan Reilly (“Humming-bird”)Anthony Veneziale (“two keys”)and Jay Ellis (“Jelis J”). Photo Joan Marcus

By incorporating guest artists, audience commentary and free improvisation, no two performances are alike. Each show leaves the audience not only with laughter, but also with ways to look at our daily situations and scenarios in a different light.

“The show is a beautifully cathartic and hilarious therapy session,” Riley said.

Whether you’re looking for a laugh, freestyle hip-hop, or need a group therapy session, FSL will certainly entertain you.

Freestyle Love Supreme will be in Charlotte May 24-29 at the Knight Theatre.

Schedule :

Tuesday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday May 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday May 28 at 2 p.m.
Saturday May 28 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday May 29 at 1:30 p.m.
Sunday May 29 at 7:00 p.m.

This article is brought to you without advertising by Blumenthal Performing Arts

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