‘freestyle love supreme’ timeline: From the Drama Book Shop to Broadway
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton changed the course of musical theatre history. His Tony-winning musical In The Heights has now been rejuvenated thanks to a stellar movie adaptation. However, before In the Heights and Hamilton ever hit the stage, Miranda’s brain was ticking over with an idea that celebrated improvisational theatre. With a bit of help from creatives Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale, freestyle love supreme was born.
Blending hip-hop, rap, improv and comedy into an 80-minute whirlwind, freestyle love supreme sees stars spitting some pretty incredible improvisational bars. Since its early days at Ars Nova and in Edinburgh, freestyle love supreme has become a phenomenon — a world-leading example of improvisational theatre. Plenty of Hamilton stars have also taken to the mic in freestyle love supreme too; Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, and Wayne Brady to name a few. In 2020, freestyle love supreme was honored with a Tony Award. But how did freestyle love supreme become a global success?
The show is back for an encore run on Broadway this fall at the Booth Theatre. Get tickets to freestyle love supreme on TodayTix.
2003: An idea for freestyle love supreme and first performance
While working in the basement of the Drama Book Shop, Miranda and Christopher Jackson were busy creating In The Heights, a Broadway-bound musical that would eventually win four Tony Awards. But when their friend Anthony Veniezale would stir up impromptu raps, the trio would rap through the day instead!
freestyle love supreme was named in honor of John Coltrane’s 1964 jazz album A Love Supreme. In the album, there’s soul, blues, hip-hop, and jazz, all musical styles that freestyle love supreme shows aim to encapsulate.
The first performance of freestyle love supreme was at the Pit Theatre on Aug. 14, 2003, the night of the New York City blackout. Ever the theatre professionals, the show still carried on to its 16 audience members. But instead of performing at the Pit, the freestyle love supreme cast walked everyone to the Drama Book Shop and rapped about everyone in the audience instead.
In a 2019 interview with Jimmy Fallon linked above, Miranda shares how freestyle love supreme came into being.
2004: Ars Nova
A year later, freestyle love supreme would be seen by larger audiences at Ars Nova. Ars Nova is an Off-Broadway theatre that produces shows in their early stages, making it the ideal location for newer shows. Fls was history making for both Ars Nova and Miranda; it was the first show at the new NYC location and was Miranda’s first live show.
Even though freestyle love supreme is now a Tony Award-winning show, the original company have continued to support Ars Nova. In 2019, the fls gang performed at a gala show at Ars Nova, which you can watch here.
2005: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
In 2005, the original freestyle love supreme company performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe all summer long. Beatboxing in the Scottish capital, the freestyle rappers honed their craft during the month-long run, beginning a line of Broadway shows that debuted at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe including Six.
2006: Melbourne Comedy Festival
A year after their European premiere, freestyle love supreme went down under, bagging a spot at the 2006 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala. Clearly, freestyle was destined for big things. You can watch a snippet of their performance above.
2009: Electric Company Revival
In 2009, many members of freestyle love supreme contributed music to The Electric Company, a kids show on PBS. In The Electric Company, Miranda played Mario, a hip-hop MC. Tommy Kail and Christopher Jackson also appeared in select episodes.
2014: freestyle Love supreme on TV
In 2014, freestyle love supreme received its television debut, courtesy of a 10-episode self-titled series that aired on Pivot. Throughout the series, audiences learned more about the freestyle love supreme concept, as well as watching unseen live performances recorded at Joe’s Pub.
2018: freestyle love supreme Academy
In an aim to introduce a new generation of theatremakers to the art of improvisation, the freestyle love supreme academy was created. The academy welcomes in budding improvisers for eight weeks of freestyle classes, improving on the art of conjuring up raps and rhymes out of thin air. In fact, some of the improvisers that attended freestyle love supreme classes have ended up in the Broadway companies?
According to their website, the fls academy stands for inclusion, equity, diversity and creativity. Find out more about the fls academy here.
15 years after their Ars Nova run, freestyle love supreme returned for a new off-Broadway engagement. freestyle love supreme teamed up with Ars Nova for performances at Greenwich House Theater from January 30 – March 2.
Many of the core company returned for more improv mischief, including Andrew Bancroft, Chris Sullivan, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Special guests joined for select performances throughout the run, but there was clearly a demand for more freestyle, which then led to a larger venue.
2019: Broadway premiere
Later that year, freestyle love supreme finally makes its Broadway debut. The sell-out season ran at the Booth Theatre from October 2 – January 12, with reviewers praising its message of love and positivity.
2020: freestyle love supreme documentary
Just because there was a global pandemic in 2020, audiences could still get their freestyle love supreme hit. In 2020, Hulu premiered the documentary We Are Freestyle Love Supreme at the Sundance Film Festival, receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Film.
2021: Back to Broadway
Get ready to drop the mic! freestyle love supreme returns to Broadway in 2021, heading back to the Booth Theatre from October 7 – January 2. Many of the 2019 cast will return, and we’ve listed their names and rapper aliases below.
Andrew Bancroft AKA “Jelly Donut”
Tarik Davis AKA “Tardis Hardaway”
Aneesa Folds AKA “Young Nees”
Arthur Lewis AKA “Arthur the Geniuses”
Kaila Mullady AKA “Kaiser Rözé”
Chris Sullivan AKA “Shockwave”
Anthony Veneziale AKA “Two-Touch”
During the run, there’ll be performances from guest stars too, who’ve appeared in shows throughout the freestyle love supreme‘s lifetime.