Freestyle Love Supreme is a mic moment for the Foxboro performer

R. Scott Reedy

Performer Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan first developed an interest in beat boxing – the skill that would take him to Broadway – while a student in the music program at Foxboro High School.

With his subsequent success in vocal percussion, Sullivan became a founding member of Freestyle Love Supreme, an improv hip-hop group formed in 2004 by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Veneziale and Thomas Kail who performed on Broadway in two engagements. limited edition, in 2019. and 2021.

The Broadway production was conceived by Veneziale with its co-creators Miranda – the composer, lyricist and author of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Hamilton” – and Kail, the Tony-winning director of this musical to success.

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Sullivan was featured in both Broadway series of “Freestyle Love Supreme,” which received a special 2020 Tony Award, and is part of the national tour set to take place at the Emerson Colonial Theater in Boston on March 18.

“I met Lin-Manuel through that show and we’ve been on many trips together since then,” Sullivan said by phone from Seattle. “He’s been training where he is now from the start. He’s a great guy. At his birthday parties, he’ll have his friends from high school as well as the celebrities he knows.

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Both Miranda and Sullivan were featured on the 2009 PBS reboot of “The Electric Company”.

“I got included in ‘The Electric Company’ because of how infectious beat boxing is for kids,” Sullivan said. “I’ve played maybe 40 different characters over the course of the show, including ‘Shock,’ a short-term beat boxing cook.'”

Foxboro's Chris Sullivan, Daveed Diggs and Wayne Brady in

Sullivan — a graduate of UMass-Amherst where he earned the nickname “Shockwave” while part of the school’s “Mission: IMPROVABLE” troupe — has also worked on two more recent, high-profile Miranda projects. .

“I beat boxing and played a musical sampler on 2016’s ‘Hamilton Mixtape’ album. And in the 2021 film adaptation of ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ hotel where Jonathan Larson’s character lives in the “No More” musical sequence.

In 2018, Sullivan co-founded FLS Academy, which recently partnered with Wayne Brady and experiential learning company Speechless to bring improvisation to a global audience.

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These days, Sullivan is happy to be on the road in Kail-directed “Freestyle Love Supreme” — the subject of the 2020 documentary “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme,” now on Hulu — in which the cast takes suggestions from the audience and turns them into comedic riffs and full musical numbers.

“This show is ‘Freestyle’ because it’s improvised and the ‘Love Supreme’ part is a tribute to John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ because we draw a lot of inspiration from jazz music,” Sullivan said.

“In jazz, you need structure to create improvisation. All invented content must fit within the structure of what was previously created, such as changes or the rule of our songs.

“We start every show with a bucket full of random words and almost passive audience involvement,” Sullivan said.

Foxboro's Chris Sullivan (from left), Christopher Jackson, Anthony Veneziale, Utkarsh Ambudkar, James Monroe Iglehart, Kurt Crowley (keyboard back) and Arthur Lewis (keyboard front) in

As audiences engage, each show is built on what’s happening in the moment, Sullivan said.

“The genius of this show is that it’s built to slowly bring the viewer into the fold. Every song we make has a specific prompt that controls the chaos. And, of course, audience participation is voluntary and not contracted. laughed Sullivan.

Sullivan said each Freestyle Love Supreme performance features three lyricists who rap and perform R&B vocals, and a rhythm section consisting of a beat boxer and two keyboardists, plus special guests, guest musicians and hip-hop dancers. poof.

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In Boston, Sullivan will appear on both shows on Fridays and Saturdays, with beat boxer Kaila Mullady appearing on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Unannounced special guests at select tour performances may include Freestyle Love members Supreme Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Wayne Brady, Christopher Jackson or James Monroe Iglehart.

Foxboro native Chris Sullivan stars with Freestyle Love Supreme, an improv, hip-hop, comedy and music show created by Lin-Manuel Miranda of

Along with her mother and other family and friends in Foxboro, as well as Hull, Marshfield and Scituate, Sullivan will likely have her own special guests at many of her Boston hearings. It is a homecoming that he is looking forward to.

“What I’m doing now is kind of a culmination of my experience in the music program at Foxboro High, where I studied the nature of percussion.”

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“It was a solid program. I played vibraphone, snare drum and quad toms in the marching band, and I was also in the symphony orchestra, where I played cymbals and the giant bass drum,” said Sullivan, a 1997 Foxboro graduate. High.

Sullivan is especially grateful for what he learned from Stephen C. Massey, the retired chairman of the Foxboro Public Schools Music Department, and music program teacher and assistant director George Murphy.

“Steve Massey helped bring good music out of the souls of high school kids,” Sullivan said. “And one of the things I learned at Foxboro High School was what George Murphy often said, ‘The more fences you build, the freer you become. “”

Foxboro's Chris Sullivan, Wayne Brady, Tarik Davis and Andrew Bancroft appear in Freestyle Love Supreme.

If you are going to

What: “Freestyle Love Supreme”

When: March 18-April 2

Or: Emerson Colonial Theater, 106 Boylston Street, Boston

Tickets: $49.75 and up

Information: 888-616-0272 or emersoncolonialtheatre.com

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