If you're still buzzing from watching "Hamilton" on Disney+, HULU has answered your prayers. The new documentary called "We Are Freestyle Love Supreme" is a necessary watch for any fan of "Hamilton," and because I've yet to encounter anyone who has seen it and ISN'T a fan, then that means that this documentary is for us all.
The musical icon that is Lin-Manuel Miranda mentions a quote from Orson Welles in "We Are Freestyle Love Supreme." The quote says: "If you want to tell a story with a happy ending, it depends on where you want to end the story." For Miranda, his "happy ending" story is still being written, and you could have ended it at any point past 2015 and it would still seem like a fairy-tale. Of course that year, Miranda's "Hamilton" exploded onto the scene and the stage - and our culture - have never been the same.
Anybody who has seen "Hamilton" knows how profoundly talented Lin-Manuel Miranda is, but I'm here to say: You ain't seen nothin' yet until you see him in this doc. Miraculously, a camera was rolling waaaaay back in 2005, which was a pretty big year for the improv-hip-hop group, "Freestyle Love Supreme," a group of rag-tag, sensationally talented kids whose creative limits knew no bounds.
What is "improv-hip-hop" you might ask? Think of improvisational comedy, where a comedian doesn't work off of a script or memorized lines, and feeds off of the audience in order to create comedy right their on stage. Well, this is the same, but instead of telling a joke, this group would make up a rap. Improv by itself is an energy that cannot be bottled...it's highs of doing it successfully are only matched by the lows of bombing at it.
And Miranda wasn't the only "Hamilton" star at the center of it. Isn't it heart-warming to know that Alexander Hamilton wasn't just George Washington's "right-hand man," but that the actor who played him on-stage, Chris Jackson, also goes way back with his buddy "Lin-Man", and was also a part of Freestyle Love Supreme? And that "Hamilton" director Tommy Kail was too?
"We Are Freestyle Love Supreme" plays as a super-hero origin movie, and to see these now-legendary stars back in their unpolished youth is quite inspirational. Their trajectory towards world fame seems inevitable now, seeing just how talented this group of people was. The movie doesn't just focus on the stars we know though, but also the other players who might have missed out on the fame that "Hamilton" brought, but who remain ever a part of Miranda's life.
While it's humbling to hear Miranda discuss how he gets the same nerves in his stomach before each and every performance, or how the "Darkwing Duck" theme-song played a role in Miranda's early development, but the doc also includes an interesting side-story about one of the group's members, the uber-talented Utkarsh Ambudkar. Viewers may recognize him from movies like "Pitch Perfect" or a number of TV roles, but wait until you hear how he was almost Aaron Burr. I mean, I could never imagine Aaron Burr as anyone else that Leslie Odom Jr., but hearing how Utkarsh missed out on the role is a tragedy.
The fun of "We Are Freestyle Love Supreme" is not just that it works as a rags-to-riches success story, but how it deepens the meaning of some of the themes Miranda deals with in "Hamilton." This doc IS the room where it happened, and there's a million things that Miranda and crew STILL haven't done...just you wait.
Genre: Music, Documentary.
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Featuring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chris Jackson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Thomas Kail, Andrew Bancroft, James Monroe Iglehart.
Directed by Andrew Fried.
"We Are Freestyle Love Supreme" is now streaming only on HULU.
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