Thomas Kail, Christopher Jackson, and Anthony Veneziale may not be household names, but Lin-Manuel Miranda certainly is. Before In the Heights, Hamilton, or Moana, he and his college buddies started their own musical improv group called Freestyle Love Supreme. Hulu invites you to go back to where it all began in We Are Freestyle Love Supreme, a documentary co-produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda that premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
The documentary uses a mix of archival footage and recent interviews with the group’s expanded members to chronicle their limited Broadway run in 2019. At first, the film plays like a documentary about a talented group of guys putting themselves out there in a unique way. But at its core, We Are Freestyle Love Supreme is a film about friendship and supporting each other’s dreams, cheering for each other’s accomplishments, and picking each other up when a member of the group falls down.
It’s no secret that Lin-Manuel Miranda is a huge Disney fan, fitting for the star of Mary Poppins Returns who is currently working with Alan Menken on music for the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. In this film, a lot of his Disney fandom pops out here and there. In one interview, he talks about how one of his earliest rhyming inspirations came from the opening credits of Darkwing Duck (“When there’s trouble you, call D.W.”). One of his oldest friends who joined the group, Arthur Lewis, went to school with Lin-Manuel Miranda who first approached him when he found out Arthur could spell “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
The film follows the group from their origins in the basement of The Drama Book Shop to an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that kicked off a festival circuit tour. You’ll also meet members of the group that stepped in as work became serious on In the Heights, a project that Lin-Manuel Miranda made with many of the founding members of Freestyle Love Supreme.
Hamilton kicked Lin-Manuel Miranda’s career into overdrive (coming to Disney+ July 3rd) and the film also covers how that impacted the group. They went from performing together at least once a year to not being able to perform much at all. Broadway’s original Genie in Aladdin, James Monroe Igelhart, was mutual friends with Christopher Jackson and joined the group. The film doesn’t draw a connection, but Iglehart is part of the current Broadway cast of Hamilton playing the dual role of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.
Using footage from archival shows and their broadway run, We Are Freestyle Love Supreme breaks down the structure of their unscripted show with multiple examples of how each performance can vary. Whether you’re a diehard theater fan, a Lin-Manuel Miranda obsessee, or just looking for an uplifting documentary film, look no further than this special Hulu Original premiering June 5th.
I give We Are Freestyle Love Supreme 5 out of 5 “Docious-ali-expi-istic-fragil-cali-rupus.”
Update 6/3/2020: Originally scheduled to release on June 5th, the creators announced on June 3rd that the release date has been pushed back to an unannounced date in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.