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Freestyle Love Supreme on Broadway – A Review

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I saw Freestyle Love Supreme in a preview (although when the content is improvised, the distinction between a preview and a performance seems pretty negligible).  I had hoped Lin-Manuel Miranda would show up but alas, he did not. (I loved him in In the Heights and in Hamilton but the man is very busy these days.)  Despite his absence, I had a lovely time.  The show is a happy one. 

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It is not great theater.  We’re not talking Shakespeare, or Ibsen, or Chekhov, or anything of the sort.  But it’s an evening of joy and creativity, and in these troubled times, that is worth an awful lot.

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There isn’t a plot.  As I said, the show is improvised. The structure is constant… the MC is Anthony Veneziale, there’s a small rotating cast, there are guest performers (I saw James Monroe Iglehart), Chris Sullivan is the beat boxer, Arthur Lewis plays keyboard (and occasionally comes forward to sing).  And it’s all a hoot, really.  

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The audience participates, with suggestions placed in a box.  We were encouraged to come forward with things we hate, and were then treated to very amusing take-downs of people who block the subway entrances, eggs, and man buns.  We also heard some rather lovely tributes to the performers’ families (wives, fiancees). A young girl in the audience, wearing a sparkly dress, visiting from Canada, was chosen to tell us about an incident she regretted (breaking her arm in a cartwheel attempt) which was then reenacted, along with a happier ending (her triumph as an Olympic gymnast).  A woman in the audience had the opportunity to recount her day (complete with subway rides, annoying work assignments scheduling travel for her boss, and a friend’s birthday celebration) and see that mundanity turned into a musical number.

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It’s impossible not to smile.  The performers are extremely clever and incredibly likable.  And they’re kind. You’ll  leave the theater in a good mood, with a sense of place, an appreciation for NYC (regardless of all of its insanity) and the common ground we share.  “Love is love is love is love is love is love,” the cast all crooned together at one point. Exactly. It’s what we need. You can find it at the Booth Theatre.

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A note to theatergoers: when you arrive, they will put your cellphone in a locked pouch.  You’re stuck in the moment. Live deliberately–you might as well, you’re part of the show.  It doesn’t last long. There’s no intermission, the magic and the improvisation end quickly: 85 minutes later, to be exact.  They’ll unlock your phone when it’s done and you can post on social media about the good time you’ve had. (And you will have a good time.  Worry not.)

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Freestyle Love Supreme – The Official Website