Ready for the best date night you’ve had in ages? Reserve tickets to Freestyle Love Supreme at Portland Center Stage, in town through May 1.
How often do you get to see one of the original creators of a Tony Award-winning production, perform in their own show, right here in your hometown? I was blown away by Anthony Veneziale, with his Jason Sudeikis likeability and whip-smart responses to audience contributions. He delivered dozens of lines that would have been most performers’ main event, just as a side note.
Audience contributions, you say? That’s right. This is an improvised show, different every night.
When I say improvised, I mean the music, the lyrics, the choreography, even the lighting. I wondered if it would be clunky taking audience suggestions through face masks, but Veneziale took our “muffled suggestions” like the pro he is, and made magic with the rest of the talented cast and crew.
The most surprising thing about the show? Its kindness. Often comedy can be cutting, or terribly dark, or even cringe-worthy. You know, when you laugh but wonder if you should have? That’s not this show. The jokes tease, rather than destroy, and you’ll leave feeling like you were at a family gathering (albeit with a family much more brilliant and talented than your real one).
Maybe you tried to get tickets to Hamilton at Keller this year and weren’t able to make it happen. Maybe you’ve streamed In the Heights until you can do the choreography in your living room. If you’re a Lin-Manuel Miranda fan, you have to make it to this show he co-created with Thomas Kail and the aforementioned brains behind this operation, Anthony Veneziale.
And did I mention that the show is only 90 minutes with no intermission, so you’ll have a more affordable sitter fee, too. But don’t worry; those 90 minutes are packed to bursting with hilarity, infectious energy and brilliant wit. And, speaking of date night, can I make a recommendation? Invest in 2022-23 season tickets at Portland Center Stage when they become available, if you can. You’ll get a reduced price per show, and your date nights for the season will be on your calendar. No deciding, no where-should-we-go, no feeling bad because it has been months since you did something with your partner. No partner? Plan date night with your bestie! Take time for yourself, see fantastic shows like this one, and then come home, get on YouTube and learn to beatbox with your kids.
For most of us, budgets are tight, and seeing a live show can feel out of reach. Portland Center Stage hears that! Check out their ticket specials, which include “pay what you will performances” (April 10 and 14 for Freestyle Love Supreme), $25 rush and standby tickets, $5 Arts for All tickets, and more. Have teens in the house? This production is recommended for ages 13 and up. (My nine-year-old who is obsessed with improv was furious that we left her at home.) This show will be audio described on April 17 and 23, sign interpreted on April 21, and open captioned on April 23.
On the way out, I told my spouse that given unlimited funds, I would buy tickets to this show every night it’s in Portland. It’s so good, you’re going to want to see it more than once.