You know that feeling when you are watching an incredible concert or movie or theater performance and you feel like you are really part of something magical with your fellow audiences members? That is how you feel for the full 90-minute (no intermission!) performance of Freestyle Love Supreme. It is engaging, joyous, and a show that you don’t want to miss.
The story of how Freestyle Love Supreme came to be sounds like one written by fate and lots of persistence. Co-creators Anthony Veneziale, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Thomas Kail met while attending Wesleyan University and began collaborating shortly after graduating. While workshopping early versions of In The Heights in the basement of Drama Book Shop in New York City, the three started improving and beatboxing with the cast.
By 2003, these impromptu sessions evolved into a stage show that went on to Ars Nova, the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and Joe’s Pub at The Public, before making its Broadway premiere 16 years later in 2019. Its history was tracked in a Hulu documentary called We Are Freestyle Love Supremewith footage from the last 15 years of friendship and collaboration. In 2020, the show also received a special Tony Award for bringing audiences together to laugh, share joy, and create theater that is unique and unforgettable.
Now on its first national tour, the show finally coming to Philadelphia is a true homecoming for co-creator Anthony Veneziale. Born and raised in Philly, he spent his teenage years going to improv and hip-hop shows across the city!
Joy is the best descriptor of what Freestyle Love Supreme brings to the stage. The feeling of a show like this is electric and has you smiling from ear-to-ear (even under a mask). As a huge musical theater lover, I usually know a good deal when I walk into a new show – the songs, the cast, even the staging sometimes is never a surprise to me. But with Freestyle, I had zero idea what to expect, which made the experience all the more exciting. It was truly unpredictable.
And the advertising is not joking when they say that every single performance of Freestyle Love Supreme is unique. They are taking suggestions from the audience continuously, and even choose singular attendees to tell the cast full stories as inspiration. The night I saw it, one person told a story about setting a trash can on fire as a child, and another person recalled their cat getting into a literal cat fight before the show. These people spent a good 10 minutes telling this story to the cast, answering questions about details, before an entire improv musical skit was devised from it IN REAL TIME. The cast barely even spoke to each other to figure out the details. Just a few glances and head nods and they were on their way. It was pure magic to see unfold…and had me desperate to see it again.
The Broadway cast of Freestyle Love Supreme with a few special guests, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Wayne Brady, Daveed Diggs, and Christopher Jackson.
It is this unpredictability that makes Freestyle Love Supreme so unique, from the performances to even the performers! The show is known to bring special guests to the stage completely unannounced as a surprise to the audience. On the night I was lucky enough to see it in Washington D.C., the show featured In The Heights and Hamilton star Christopher Jackson; but former guests have included Daveed Diggs, Wayne Brady, Sarah Kay, Bill Irwin, Josh Groban, James Monroe Iglehart, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Alex Lacamoire, and many more. On occasion, even Lin-Manuel Miranda himself has made an appearance! When the lights go down, you never know who might walk out on that stage…
Freestyle Love Supreme makes its Philadelphia debut at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Miller Theater (formerly Merriam Theater) on Tuesday, June 7. Get your tickets to a show (or multiple), and don’t miss your chance to see a literal once-in-a-lifetime performance!
Morgan Horell is the Marketing Content Associate at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, managing all photo, video, and social media projects that are used in Marketing. She loves all things Broadway, always has a book or podcast recommendation, and makes a fantastic trivia partner.