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BWW Review: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME at A.C.T. Geary Theatre

Freestyle Love Supreme

BWW Review: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME at A.C.T. Geary Theatre

Freestyle Love Supreme

Created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale

Directed by Thomas Kail

A.C.T.

Not a fan of rap, improv or audience participation, three key ingredients of FLS, I have to say I was drawn in by the incredibly talented cast and the lightning speed at which they riff on random thoughts and observations. Combining sketch theater and 'freestyle rap, the 90-minute exercise in creativity included humor, social awareness, pathos and inspiration.

With the aid of two keyboardists (James Rushin and Richard Baskin Jr.) , the MCs of the show create fully realized numbers using audience suggestions backed by beatbox and human percussion. Show co-creator Anthony Veneziale, aka Two Touch, keeps the shows structure moving along: 'a random word', 'things we dislike', 'a headline drawn from your past', 'a word you love and can't live without' and the finale of 'share your day'.

BWW Review: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME at A.C.T. Geary Theatre
Andrew Bancroft (Jelly Donut), Jay C. Ellis (Jellis J), Aneesa Folds (Young Nees), and Anthony Veneziale (Two Touch)

Using this loose framework, every show is different based on that night's audience. My show's word was 'litigate' and the raps created by Two Touch, Jelly Donut (Andrew Bancroft), Young Nees (Aneesa Folds), and beatboxer wizard Shockwave (Chris Sullivan) were stunningly inspired. Dislikes included the My Pillow Guy, too much mayo and a vegan girlfriend. Quick wit and freestyle mastery seemed effortless.

The 'word you love' was destiny, which as turned into a quartet of moving and inspirational raps. Re-creating a seemingly boring day in the life of an audience member (a married teacher's day from rise to his arrival at the show) turned into a wildly humorous montage.

BWW Review: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME at A.C.T. Geary Theatre
Chris Sullivan (Shockwave), Morgan Reilly (Hummingbird), Jay C. Ellis (Jellis J), Andrew Bancroft (Jelly Donut), Anthony Veneziale (Two Touch), Kaila Mullady (Kaiser Rözé), and Aneesa Folds (Young Nees)

Special guests Jellis J (Jay C. Ellis), Kaiser Rözé (Kaila Mullady) and Hummingbird (Morgan Reilly) round out the superb cast and added to the show's standout number in which they re-created an audience member's traumatic fainting while delivering a third-grade book report. The actors staged her memory hilariously, then rewound it and transformed her history by empowering her to say no to her teacher. It was simply spectacular.

Freestyle Love Supreme is the first in-person performances at A.C.T. since March 2020 and is a surprisingly hip, adventurous and creative work joyously welcoming the audiences back to live theater.

Freestyle Love Supreme continues through Feb. 13 at American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F. Tickets available at 415-749-2228 or act-sf.org

Photo credit: Kevin Berne



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