|(from left) Kaila Mullady, Jay C. Ellis, Andrew Bancroft, and Morgan Reilly|
Many, many years ago there used to be an Improv Club in San Diego. I used to go often to see various comedians do their acts, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an evening of fun, friendship and getting to see some pretty well known and awesome stars.
Jack Lemon once said that ‘dying is easy, comedy is hard’. So, if you happen to find yourself at The Old Globe any one of these days through July 10th to see “Freestyle Love Supreme”, don’t think you walked in a ready made scripted Hip Hop /Rap celebration. All of what you will be seeing is performed by a group of musician/ actors in non- stop motion doing their thing. That 'thing' is Improv taken to the nth degree.
The idea was conceived in 2003 by Anthony Veneziale, Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Yes, that Lin-Manuel Miranda). Now well beyond their college days, the group has morphed into this Tony award winning show now on tour around the country.
On the way into the theatre patrons were asked to write words on a slip of paper and drop them into a bucket. Why, you ask? Well it seems that some of the words chosen for opening night’s presentation were taken from that bucket and voila a story is created by any one of the performers on stage that night.
|Opening night cast.|
According to those in the know, different actors appear on different dates. On opening night Jelly Donut or Andrew Bancroft acted as host. Others that I can remember and did enjoy was singer Morgan ‘Hummingbird’ Reilly who riffed on ‘Seasoned Croutons’. Because every audience will react differently to what’s going on on stage making each performance different, I hope they do that one again.
Two stories that came from the audience was the one about a young boy coming face to face with a cougar while at his older brother’s birthday party in the mountains with his family. The funniest was when an audience member revealed that he had driven two hours from Riverside County to San Diego to meet up with his first date. They met at the Globe that night. That garnered a lot of laughs from the audience (he packed an overnight case...just in case) and the young man looked perfectly at ease.
The cast had a ball rapping and improving about the story and they were good. Oft times one word could take up no less that fifteen minutes to make the round robin of every cast member having their say on the same word or set of circumstances. Some of the takes went on way too long, but you be the judge. The show is 80 minutes or so with no intermission.
Full disclosure: Hip Hop and Rap are not my most favorite forms of entertainment. The words come too fast for me to get one rap before the next is out, if you get my drift. My brain doesn’t absorb what my ears scramble to hear. As the rest of the audience clapping beyond loud might say; “Not their problem”.
“Freestyle Love Supreme” has been around for over twenty years, so what do I know. Twenty years or so ago I might have felt differently, but folks, there you have it. If you enjoy this type of entertainment, go for it. I can tell you that from the audience reaction and participation, they were out of their seats with excitement.
|(from left) Morgan Reilly, Kaila Mullady (back), Anthony Veneziale, and Jay C. Ellis.|
Everything about the look of the production is hi tech. Nevin Steinberg is credited for the sound. Beowulf Boritt, scenic. Jeff Croiter, lighting. Lisa Zanni, costumes and Thomas Kail, directed.
If you are so inclined, give it try for something very different.
Dates: Through July 10
Organization: The Old Globe
Production Type: Hip-Hop /Improve
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Ticket Prices: From $52.00
Photo: Joan Marcus