Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: “Freestyle Love Supreme” Returns To The Kennedy Center

The 90-minute production, co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is a vibrant blend of improvisational theater and freestyle rap.

Freestyle Love Supreme: Tarik Davis, Kaila Mullady, Andrew Bancroft, Bill Sherman. James Monroe Iglehart -- Photo: Joan Marcus
Freestyle Love Supreme – Photo: Joan Marcus

A decade before Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda helped develop this completely improvised hip-hop musical adventure with Anthony Veneziale and Thomas Kail, with the trio working on Freestyle Love Supreme during rehearsal breaks for what became Miranda’s Tony-winning breakthrough In The Heights.

The Kennedy Center welcomes back Freestyle Love Supreme nearly three years after a short run in the Family Theater that preceded the show’s 2019 Broadway debut, which garnered a Special Tony Award in 2020.

The stage show also inspired We Are Freestyle Love Supreme, the Grammy-nominated Hulu documentary released in 2020.

At each performance, a cast of multi-hyphenate talents turn suggestions from the audience into humorous bits, instantaneous songs and raps, and fully realized musical numbers.

The resulting 90-minute production, directed by Tony winner Kail (Hamilton), is a blend of improvisational theater — built around thematic freestyle “games” (going by titles such as “Day in a Life,” “Pet Peeves,” and “Second Chance”) — with hip-hop, specifically a variant of freestyle rap, plus additional music stylings from jazz, soul, and blues, paying light homage to the show’s namesake, the late jazz saxophonist John Coltrane’s acclaimed album A Love Supreme.

Christopher Jackson, the Tony-nominated, Grammy- and Emmy-winning actor who originated the roles of Benny in In The Heights and George Washington in Hamilton, will join the show’s national tour as a special guest at all performances at the Kennedy Center except the 2 p.m. matinee on Thursday, May 12.

A founding member of the Freestyle Love Supreme ensemble known as “C-Jack,” Jackson will join creator Veneziale, aka “Two Touch,” in a cast also featuring Andrew “Jelly Donut” Bancroft, Richard “Rich Midway” Baskin, Jr., Jay C. “Jellis J” Ellis, Aneesa “Young Nees” Folds, Mark “Mandible” Martin, Kaila “Kaiser Rözé” Mullady, Morgan “Hummingbird” Reilly, James “Not Draggin” Rushin, Dizzy Senze, and Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan.

Performances are Tuesday, May 10, through Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. Plus Thursday, May 12, Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m.

In the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $45 to $135.

Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

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